Growing Regions - South Australia
South Australia has a long history of apple growing, starting in the Adelaide Hills in the 1860's. It produces around 29,000 tonnes of apples annually, which returns an annual farmgate value of production of nearly $60 million. This includes about 2,000 tonnes of apples which are processed annually. SA production represents about 9 percent of Australia's apple production. South Australian fresh apple exports are over 1,000 tonnes each year, mainly the variety Cripps Pink (sold as Pink Lady™) (90 percent of exports). Processed apple juice (120,000 litres) and dried apples (8 tonnes) are also exported. South Australia's fresh apple exports are valued at $2.8 million annually. Value of apple juice and dried apple exports are $1.5 million.
There are currently about 1.5 million apple trees in South Australia, grown by its 220 apple growers, of which about 100 growers primarily produce apples; the remainder produce apples with other mixed enterprises. Most apple growers in SA (80 percent) have small holdings of less than twenty hectares; the remaining 20 percent farming in excess of twenty hectares. Apple orchards in SA are almost all family-owned and run.
The Adelaide Hills regions is the State's most important and longest established, with 80 percent of the growers. Centred on the Lenswood Valley, apple growing in this area is characterised by good clay/loam soils and a rainfall of around 1000mm annually. While being of 34 degrees of latitude south it has a climate moderated by around 500m of altitude and South-westerly weather patterns.
The Riverland is an area 250km to the North-east of Adelaide and bordering the Murray River. The area has very low rainfall <250mm and is irrigated solely with water sourced from the Murray River. Soils vary from sand to clay, with apples found on the heavy soils. Because of the climate, the Riverland grows varieties best suited to those conditions and enjoys a early advantage in the marketplace.
The Limestone Coast growing region is centred close to the regional city of Mt Gambier, which is 450km South-east of Adelaide. The area has been relatively recently developed for apple growing. It is a cool growing region with good soils generally and plentiful water.