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Suggested varieties
Pest and disease management
Disease management
Nutritional benefits of apples




Pipfruit is the name given to the fruiting trees that include apple, European pear, Asian pear, quince, and medlar.

Apples and pears were amongst the first fruit trees brought into New Zealand by colonising Europeans in the early 1840s.

Apples have in fact been grown in home gardens for centuries although the fruit have changed considerably in both appearance and flavour over time as new varieties (cultivars) have been selected.

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Suggested varieties for the home garden


The more tried and true varieties are more commonly available in garden centres, but before choosing it is advisable to talk to your neighbours and garden centre about which varieties grow well in your area.

Apple Country of origin



Cox's Orange Pippin



Early season apple, distinctive flavour, highly rated in UK




Early, sweet apple, grown mainly in the North Island

Gala, Royal Gala

New Zealand


Early to mid-season, sweet apple with crisp texture and striped skin, popular

Golden Delicious



Old favourite, a sweet eating apple, mid-season, being replaced by others that store longer


Red Delicious



Mid-season standard and easy to grow,

fruit can be stored


sss sss

Late mid-season, good quality with crisp texture but surface is prone to bruising, no longer grown commercially


New Zealand


Late, firm-textured variety, flavour improves after storage

Sturmer Pippin



Late, used for eating or cooking, acidic, easy to grow in the south

Granny Smith



Late eating and cooking apple, versatile variety but may not ripen in the south


William's Bon Chretien



Early pear, popular for bottling

Packham's Triumph



Popular for bottling

Winter Cole



Late pear, can be stored

Winter Nelis


Early 1800s

Late, good flavoured pear that can be stored

Doyenne du Comice



Good flavoured pear, responds well to organic production


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Pest and disease management

The biggest challenges facing growers of apples and pears in the New Zealand home garden lie in dealing with pest and diseases. Scientific studies allow us to understand the life cycles of these various pests in relation to the crop, and this knowledge allows us to identify the most appropriate methods to reduce the impact of these pests and diseases.

Codling moth (Cydia pomonella )

The larvae (caterpillar) of codling moth directly attack fruit, usually by tunnelling into the side of the fruit, where they feed on the fruit flesh and pips, before exiting, often through the calyx. The entry hole is often surrounded by a red halo of fruit skin and is characterised by the presence of frass (faecal pellets).

  1. Cultural control methods
    1. Removal of vegetation from the orchard understorey during the winter, through cultivation or mulching.
    2. Use a wire brush to remove this loose bark during winter can reduce numbers of over-wintering codling moth caterpillars and pupae.

However, the success of such an approach is dependent on how close the nearest unmanaged codling moth-infested tree is because during spring, female moths may simply fly over the fence from another infested tree and lay eggs on your well-managed tree!

  1. Codling moth traps
    • Catches of male moths in coddling moth traps can indicate the best time to apply an insecticide. When catches of moths total 10 or more in a trap, this is the best time to apply an insecticide.One or two well-timed insecticide applications offer the home gardener the most effective method of producing codling-free fruit.

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Leafroller caterpillars

The lightbrown apple moth ( Epiphyas postvittana ) is the most common. Their pest status on apples and pears is due to surface feeding damage on fruit. As this damage is largely cosmetic, it is best for home gardeners to simply accept this damage. The alternative is monthly applications of insecticides throughout the growing season.

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Scale insects

These are small sap-sucking insects that are covered with a hard shell. Scale insects become a problem mainly due to the sugary `honey dew' they excrete, which in turn provides a food source for the black sooty mould fungus.

Control of scale is relatively easily achieved by spraying with mineral oil (at the 2% rate) in the early spring, just as the buds begin to break and the first green tips are visible.

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The growing of fruit of sufficient quality and quantity to satisfy the home gardener can frequently be achieved without the use of sprays. Fruit quality can be considerably enhanced through pruning and hand thinning (as described above). If sprays are to be applied, attention should be given to achieving a thorough coverage of the entire tree, concentrating on the underside of leaves. A spreader/sticker should be added to all sprays, and the correct mixing rates used. If in doubt, garden centres can be contacted for advice.

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Disease management:


Blackspot (Venturia inaequalis )

The blackspot fungus causes dark lesions on leaves and fruit of apples and pears. Home gardeners should remove all leaf material from the understorey below the trees, once leaf-fall is complete. This removes the over-wintering asco-spores of the fungus because it is these that release spores early spring and re-infect the foliage. Adding nitrogen under trees after leaf fall also aids leaf decomposition.

It is difficult to control blackspot using fungicides.

Studies have also demonstrated that blackspot prefers warm and wet conditions, so pipfruit gardens in locations like Auckland will suffer more from this disease than those in drier climates. Choosing a site for your pipfruit trees that dries out quickly after rainfall or watering can help reduce blackspot problems.

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Powdery mildew (Podosphaera leucotricha )

This fungus disease affects apples only, and prefers conditions that are hot and dry. During the summer, infected shoot tips are coated with a white powdery substance, new growth aborts, and badly infected shoots shrivel and die. Management should focus on removal of infected shoots during winter and spring, with any infected prunings thoroughly disposed of. Fungicides can also be used to reduce powdery mildew, although this is not usually necessary in home gardens.

Unlike other fruits (e.g. citrus) the fertiliser requirements of pipfruit are not great, and care should be taken not to over-fertilise. Maintaining a weed-free growing area around establishing trees is important and can be achieved by mulching, applying herbicide, or hoeing.

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Nutritional benefits of apples

There are so many reasons to eat an apple a day, they include:

  • Convienience – Apples are the perfect, portable snack. They are great tasting, energy-boosting, and free of fat.
  • Good and hearty Research confirms that the antioxidants and phytonutrients found in apples help fight the damaging effects of LDL (bad) cholesterol, and are good for your heart. A Finnish study published in 1996 showed that people who eat a diet rich in flavonoids have a lower incidence of heart disease. Other studies indicate that flavonoids may help prevent strokes.
  • Aids digestion and weight loss Just one apple provides as much dietary fibre as a serving of bran cereal. (That's about one-fifth of the recommended daily intake of fibre.) In addition to aiding digestion, dietary fibre promotes weight loss. A medium apple contains about five grams of fibre, more than most cereals. Also, apples contain almost zero fat and cholesterol, so they are a delicious snack and dessert food that's good for you.
  • Builds strong bones Apples contain the essential trace element, boron, which has been shown to strengthen bones a good defence against osteoporosis. It is a good idea to eat apples with their skin. Almost half of the vitamin C content is just underneath the skin. Eating the skin also increases insoluble fibre content. Most of an apple's fragrance cells are also concentrated in the skin. As skin cells ripen they develop more aroma and flavour.

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