A growing number of fruit growers are switching to buying a “modern” variety of apple instead of the traditional variety.
The new varieties are growing at a fast rate and have a higher price tag, but the result is that some growers are buying up old trees in a bid to get rid of unwanted fruit and improve their yields.
The fruit from a modern western apple is less dense than that of its less common relatives, which means that it can be harvested quicker and more cheaply.
The Australian Fruit Board (AFB) said that it had not heard of any serious cases of apple pickers picking up old western trees, but it would investigate whether the practice was widespread.
“We don’t have enough data to confirm whether it’s happening, but we are looking at the issue and we will work with growers to identify whether this is occurring,” AFA spokesman Paul Kennedy said.
“Western apples are still a valuable crop to the market and we are doing everything we can to support the industry.”
There is no evidence that the practice is spreading and, as fruit trees age, they produce less fruit, Mr Kennedy said, adding that the AFA would not allow farmers to cut the trees down to save the fruit.
“If the farmer has been told they are not going to harvest the western apple and it’s been removed from the farm, then that is not acceptable.”
The AFA says it would not accept any other reason for a farmer to cut down a western fruit tree, including the cost.
“There’s no reason for someone to buy a new apple if they can’t afford to buy the old one,” Mr Kennedy added.
The Afton ABC contacted a number of growers, but did not receive a response.
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