Australian Pears

Drought conditions will continue to affect Australia's apple and pear production during the 2008/09 season, as poor soil moisture and a lack of irrigation water persists.

That is the verdict of a new report by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which has forecast apple volumes to remain constant at 290,000 tonnes and pear production to fall to 135,000 tonnes from 150,000 tonnes the previous year.

The Golburne Valley, which accounts for approximately 25 per cent of apple production and 85 per cent of pear production, will continue to experience the most severe drought conditions.

Despite the difficult growing conditions and lack of production growth, apple exports are expected to climb this year to 5,000 tonnes from 4,000 tonnes in 2008. Growth is a result of the sharp decrease in the value of the Australian dollar, with key export markets in India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Singapore in Asia, as well as the UK.

However, pear exports are forecast to fall to 3,000 tonnes from 3,500 tonnes in 2008, the USDA said, as a result of the record low in production.