In the heart of New Zealand’s central Otago, a group of scientists is working on ensuring the quality of that apricot is perfect every time. Dr Jill Stanley - Based in Clyde- leads one of the teams at Plant & Food Research working on the organisation's summerfruit research program. From more than 20 hectares of fruit orchards planted specifically for research, they breed and select new elite cultivars, study pest and disease control and develop ways to improve fruit quality and tree productivity. This is all done in close collaboration with local growers and Summerfruit New Zealand, which also provides some of the research funding.
"We focus mainly on apricots and cherry, but also assess selections and new cultivars of blueberries, raspberries, kiwiberries, apples and pears. And, surprisingly, hops, which grow very well in the Clyde micro-climate," Stanley told stuff.co.nz. "We want better quality fruit, greater sustainability and better economic returns for our growers."
The work translates into research around enhancing fruit quality, improving production and harvesting efficiency, developing new growing systems, and following what happens to fruit after the harvest.
In recent years, Plant & Food Research has released three new apricot cultivars that meet these quality standards and exporters will target them at Asian markets in particular.
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