Western Australian fruitgrowers are being encouraged to plant Pink Lady and Sundowner apple trees to take advantage of exciting new export opportunities.
Agriculture Minister Ernie Bridge said the new apple varieties could form the basis of a highly profitable export industry, following favourable reaction to the first commercial shipments overseas.
The new apples fetched retail prices as high as A$7.25 a kilogram in England and A$8.64 a kilogram in Taiwan.
Growers received a return of $40 a carton for bare fruit, compared to just $4.50 a carton being paid for Granny Smiths.
"Such an industry would mean more jobs in the South-West in orchards, packaging and support services," he said.
"It is also an opportunity to regain lost markets, as Australia has gone from holding seven per cent of the total world apple market in 1971 to just one per cent at present."
The Pink Lady and Sundowner apples - both crosses of Golden Delicious and Lady William apples - were bred by the Department of Agriculture and released to growers in 1985.
To date, about 120,000 Pink Lady trees and about 60,000 Sundowner trees have been planted in WA, but Mr Bridge said one million trees would need to be in the ground by the year 2000 to take advantage of export market demand.
WA currently grows about one-eighth of Australia's total apple crop of more than 300,000 tonnes.
Mr Bridge said the Lawrence Government's 1992-93 Budget, announced last week, included a $120,000 allocation to help develop new apple varieties and markets and assist growers develop large plantings of Pink Lady and Sundowner apples.
In addition, the apple breeding and selection program based at Stoneville and Manjimup would be maintained.
Mr Bridge said the recent overseas shipments of Pink Lady and Sundowner apples was a joint effort between the department, the Apple and Pear Council, and exporters.