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TopFruit - Corné Grundlingh & Dihan Blom

Bingo Gala apples offer uniformity of ripeness and eating quality

There are between 550 and 600ha of a South African Gala variety called Bingo Gala planted in South Africa. The exceptionally high exportable class 1 and high colour packouts of Bingo Gala have received very good feedback from the Far East, as they had expected, says Corné Grundlingh, TopFruit pome fruit business unit manager.

During a field day in February on the farm of the variety’s discoverer, Jannie Wiegman, in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, it was evident from the striking colour of the fruit on the trees why this variety is praised for its exceptionally high colour packouts, she remarks. “Its full cherry red colour stays the same, even after advanced maturity.”

She continues: “On this farm, Bingo Gala returned a fantastic 95% packout in the 80% to 100% colour specification while an adjacent Royal Gala orchard, harvested during the same week, only returned a 44.5% colour packout in the same colour specification.”

Moreover, it’s a production-friendly and labour-friendly cultivar with a guaranteed good eating experience. When planted at a spacing of 3.5 x 1.5 metres a potential tonnage of 70 tonnes per hectare can be expected, says Dihan Blom, pome technical manager at TopFruit.

Bingo Gala, one of TopFruit's top sellers in the apple category (photos supplied by TopFruit)

Direct correlation between colour development and maturity
Crucially, the later colour development of Bingo Gala can be directly linked to maturity, he adds, which makes it easy to determine when the fruit is at its optimal harvesting period.

“A tree has varying zones of ripeness, which an average starch measurement can’t accurately represent. Colour and ripeness together will give you a better indication of eating quality and therefore mixed maturity when harvesting Bingo Gala is highly unlikely,” he says.

The assurance of homogeneity in a carton with regards to eating quality and ripeness, is a further boon to the cultivar’s marketability.

TopFruit recommends a two-pick strategy at an interval of seven to ten days as it's important not to have fruit of differing maturity in the bin, which results in mixed maturity in the carton. “Therefore,” he advises, “the fruit on the trees’ top and outside is picked at first when the starch breakdown is between 30 and 40%. During this pick, 60% to 70% of the fruit is harvested.”

After seven to ten days when the inside fruit has reached a full cherry red colour and a starch breakdown of 40%, the remainder of the fruit is picked.

He points out that some high-value cultivars require as many as three to four picks.

International Bingo Gala expansion
The harvest of Bingo Gala was towards the end of February in the Elgin, Grabouw, Vyeboom and Villiersdorp area where most of the blocks of Bingo Gala have been planted. Bingo Gala orchards in the Koue Bokkeveld (Ceres) and the Langkloof will take off the first commercial crop next year. The cultivar has also been established in the eastern Free State.

There is no marketing levy attached to Bingo Gala and no limit to the number of hectares planted in South Africa. The variety can only be marked as Bingo Gala if it complies to the minimum 80% red block colour standard, otherwise it should be marked as Royal Gala.

“The advantage of Bingo Gala at 80% colour is not necessarily just the price premium,” Corné explains, “but the higher packout of 80% colour over other Gala varieties. This advantage usually extends to the producer due to the higher packout of 80% colour.”

Bingo Gala is in quarantine in the USA and in Europe. In Australia Bingo Gala trials have commenced, while the cultivar is due to be introduced to Chile as well.

Bingo Gala is one of TopFruit’s top three apple tree sellers, along with Lady in Red (Pink Lady®) and RDS (Joya®).


For more information:
Corné Grundlingh
Dihan Blom
Tel: +27 21 874 1033

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