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AU: New plum varieties looking to diversify stone fruit market
One of Australia's leading stone fruit producers is set to increase its market diversification following the planting of new varieties from Israel.
Throughout December over 20,000 of the new plum trees from Ben Dor were planted, which are exclusive to Cutri Fruit. They will run counter seasonal to other forms of stone fruit, and could be on the market by 2020.
"We will be harvesting fruit when there is no other stone fruit on the Australian market," Marketing Manager Nicole Cutri said. "They are also a new category of super-sweet plums that we can offer to our customers. The new varieties will taste better than what we have on the market, the varieties are innovative in colour and flavour, not to mention the health benefits."
Ms Cutri says the late season plums will be harvested from mid-March to early May and will be highly-sweet with excellent shelf-life. One of those varieties is the Turtle Egg, which is easily-recognisable for its green skin and very sweet, yellow flesh.
Cutri Fruit has also brought in a series of Watermelon Variety Plums, which are characterised by their high natural sugars (brix over 19) and very high antioxidant levels.
"We have imported the series of these plums, so will have a five month continual supply of them for our customers," Ms Cutri said. "They generally have a speckled red flesh with a deep red/merlot-coloured flesh that is easily recognisable by our customers."
The company's main focus for selling these new varieties is on the Asian markets, where the demand will be very high, due to the consistently high brix levels, their firmness, and their ability to travel well. But Ms Cutri says the plums will be marketed towards the local market as well.
"Domestically, we hope consumers will want to buy our late plums over imported varieties from the US," she said. "We hope consumers will gravitate towards these varieties once they learn of their high-antioxidant and high-anthocyanin levels."
Cutri Fruit has just completed the first round of plantings and plans to complete the planting of the trial site by April 2018. The site will have approximately 60, 000 trees planted. But Ms Cutri says it's been a long journey to get this far.
"This journey is already 5 years since its inception," she says. "From importation it takes 18 months to get through the AQIS quarantine process where they’re tested for viruses and diseases. Then when trees come out we have to multiply up buds from 100 to 7,000 that are required for testing. Then we plant out the varieties on our farms, and within 2 years using our new methods of training and growing we have the first fruits."
She adds that production will begin to drastically increase in year 4 (6 years from importation) with the first crop. From then production increases in year 5, then plateauing out when the trees are then in full production.
"Plums are a crop that Cutri fruit have grown for many years," Ms Cutri said. "As part of our new development work Gaethan (Cutri) identified varieties and in particular plums. Over the last 2 years at Cutri Fruit we have researched new and innovative ways to grow trees, in particular plums. These plums are part of the new varieties we have brought into the country."
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