A special variety of custard apple, which could be available commercially within a few years, has been produced at the Glass House Mountains tropical fruit farm.
Robert and Karen Martin of Yanalla Farms produce lychees, dragon fruit and custard apples on their Sunshine Coast hinterland orchard but it's their rare PinksBlush custard apple that they're focused on going forward. Now, the Martins have received a $4,750 grant from the Queensland government's Small Business Artisan Producer Grants Program to help take their business to the next level.
Mrs Martin said they currently had 50 of the custard apple trees on their property but after securing the plant breeders' rights in 2018, they were looking to produce the variety commercially and will look to license it to other growers.
"We've got about 3000 plants which we've only just finished grafting... we'll start planting those out in January, February and then within two to three years we'll start harvesting a commercial crop from there," she said. "We've had a few setbacks. We've had three hail storms over the last 13 months and that sort of damaged some of our existing custard apples that we had in the ground but we just have to bounce back and we can start doing it now that we've been successful in this grant."
The 22 hectare farm was last hit by hail on Sunday, destroying their dragon fruit crop, and ripping through bird netting over their lychee orchard to severely damage the young fruit.
Mrs Martin said the PinksBlush variety of custard apple had evolved naturally on the farm, with her father-in-law Bob Martin finding custard apples fruiting out of season on a single branch of one of their Pinks Mammothcustard apple trees about 20 years.
According to goodfruitandvegetables.com.au, the Martins have been selling the PinksBlush custard apples to Melbourne markets for the last three or four years, selling seconds locally. They hope to be able to expand sales into Brisbane, Sydney and Perth, eventually tapping into Asian markets like Taiwan, Thailand and Singapore.