South Australian Apple and Pear Industry Organisations

South Australian Apple and Pear Industry Organisations

In the very early days of the last century, horticulturists were seeking unity, and in 1904 formed the S.A. Fruitgrowers and Market Gardeners Association.  As its membership grew, it became necessary to establish Sections with their own committees to cater for the needs of the various commodity groups.  Due to the growth of the Apple and Pear industry, it established its own Section in 1934 and from that, formed or became associated with various organisations listed below.

S.A. Fruitgrowers and Market Gardeners Association

The Association was formed in 1904, and in 1919 opened its first of a number of Branches at Marion, which, at its peak had 150 members.  The urban sprawl contributed to the closure of this Branch in 1970 with only 22 members.  Following the establishment of its first Branch, together with a steep increase in membership, Branches were opened throughout the State, and Sections formed to satisfy the needs of various commodities.

A trading division known as the Fruitgrowers and Market Gardeners Society was set up to supply merchandise related to the production, packaging, export and local sales of member’s produce.

At a later date, a freighting division known as Safrate Pty Ltd was established to service the ever increasing demand for South Australian produce by interstate markets.

Sadly the Association closed in 1996 with its assets being absorbed by the S.A. Farmer’s Federation.

Apple and Pear Growers Association of S.A. Inc

The Apple and Pear Section of the SA Fruitgrowers and Market Gardeners Association was formed in 1934, and was the only section to employ its own staff and fund its operations and promotion from voluntary levies.  In spite of this it was answerable to the Association’s Board of Management, which prevented the Section from establishing its own returnable plastic crate company needed by members.

This forced the Section to form the Apple and Pear Growers Association of SA (A&PGA of SA), who immediately formed SA Crate Pty Ltd as its wholly owned subsidiary.  This was in 1977.

SA Crate was very successful as growers bought the right to use the crates at their cost.  They then paid a usage fee for the number of crates they had originally signed up for.  The financial success of SA Crate was such that it was able to fund a large portion of the costs of the Association.  In addition, growers were offered debentures offering better than bank interest.  This enabled A&PGA of SA to purchase property in Norwood from which to operate, plus property for rental.  Because of its successful operation, the A&PGA of SA was seen as the best apple grower organisation in Australia.

When the wholesale fruit and vegetable markets relocated to Pooraka, A&PGA of SA sold its interests in Norwood and built premises at Cavan (adjacent to the new wholesale markets), suiting growers using this market.

A&PGA of SA is still operational.

SA Apple and Pear Export Shippers Association

This organisation was formed when export licences were issued by the Australian Apple and Pear Board (following cessation of compulsory acquisition of fruit immediately after World War II).  Members had to be licensed and active exporters of apples and pears.  They negotiated with the packing sheds about quantities of fruit available for export, prices, shipping space and the destination.  They then negotiated with ship owners or their agents for space, vessels, departure times and discharge ports.

South Australian Country Cold Stores Association

Formed in 1940, this Association initially studied the problems associated with export fruit in an attempt to encourage uniform packing by co-operative and private packers.  They were also able to collate the amount of fruit destined for overseas export, liaise with the Australian Apple and Pear Board, and negotiated prices, etc.  A major achievement in 1959 was the trialling of ungraded and unwrapped fruit in 25 bushel bulk containers to accepting overseas importers.  This greatly reduced shipping and handling costs.

Trial bulk export consignments of Cleopatra apples - 1967

Caption:  Trial bulk export consignments of Cleopatra apples - 1967
Photo No. 103395
History of Agriculture, PIRSA

Agricultural Bureau of SA

An extremely old and established organization that held its first meeting on 10th April 1888, and proved to be a very valuable asset to rural life in South Australia.  Branches were formed in moist rural areas where the men and women of the land were able to share their knowledge and experience.

The Branches involved with the apple and pear industry in SA have remained very strong and have earned a reputation of working closely with the local industry organisations.

Sadly due to changes in a number of rural areas, together with the introduction of electronic services, many branches have either closed or amalgamated.  The publication, “One Hundred Years on the Land” by Caroline Guerin (1988) is a product of excellent research and includes a record of past and present members to the date of publication, and a wealth of other information related to the Department of Agriculture and its Sections.

Australian Apple & Pear Board

Following the last meeting of the Australian Apple and Pear Export Council held in Adelaide in 1938, the Australian Apple and Pear Board was formed.  It was granted the powers of acquisition in 1939 and implemented them in 1940.

The Australian Apple & Pear Board was mainly concerned with exports, issued export licenses, promoted Australian apple and pears overseas, and was made up of grower representatives from each Australian state plus exporter representation.  The Board was replaced by the Australian Apple and Pear Corporation that had legislative powers to levy producers for promotion and research through the newly appointed Australian Horticultural Research Corporation?

Private Cool Store Owners Group

Growers who owned their own cool stores met periodically to discuss any matters affecting their individual operation.  This included any questionable decisions that may have been made by larger groups, new innovations such as conversion to controlled atmosphere storage, and the major advancements that evolved, particularly in the late 1960’s.

For a list of cold store operators in 1965, see P 45 of the 1965 Adelaide Hills Apple & Pear Festival brochure

SA Pome Fruit Improvement Committee

This committee was formed in 1974 by the Apple & Pear Growers Association of SA.  Dr Rip van Velsen, a virologist with the SA Department of Agriculture was the main instigator of an apple improvement scheme.

The objectives of the committee were to improve the quality and range of propagation material by selection, introduction, breeding, identification of disease free lines, evaluation and promotion of new clones.  The Committee distributed scion wood and rootstocks together with all of the relevant information to the industry.

The first virus tested rootstocks together with some new varieties arrived at the Lenswood Research Centre in early 1974, and the staff at the Centre built up rootstock numbers until sufficient quantities were ready for distribution to growers and nurseries.

Funds from the sale of this material were deposited into an account with and used to benefit the apple and pear industry through establishment of numerous rootstock and variety evaluation trials on Lenswood Research Centre.  The funds were also used to bring overseas experts to SA, assist members visiting relevant events, rapid multiplication of rootstocks, and development of tissue culture techniques.

As a result of careful financial management, a rootstock nursery was established at Monash in the Riverland.  This required considerable funding and work from Committee members.  This very successful project was eventually taken over by the Australian Pomefruit Improvement Committee in 1988.

Page Last Reviewed: 20 Nov 2017
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