The State Government has officially unveiled 17 new and improved varieties of apricots specifically bred to maximise returns to growers, today at the Riverland Field Days.
The new varieties have been developed by the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) at the Loxton Research Centre, in conjunction with industry bodies including Australian Dried Tree Fruits Association, Summer Fruit SA and Horticulture Innovation Australia.
The apricots have been specially bred to provide growers with a competitive advantage through improved dry ratio and cropping reliability, in addition to enhancing the consumer experience through a tastier and juicier fruit.
Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone said the ability for growers to utilise the new apricot varieties is a competitive edge for the industry going into apricot season.
“The release of the new apricot varieties was the culmination 35 years of research and these 17 new varieties will provide an important boost to South Australia’s stone fruit and dried fruit industries,” said Minister Whetstone.
“Important research has enabled the dried fruit industry to advance from having just three key varieties of apricots available to 20 with a competitive edge in terms of higher quality fruit and better crop reliability.
“The Riverland is home to a large amount of South Australia’s stone fruit growers and this project is set to benefit not only the local economy, but right across the state and beyond.
“Apricot season is from November to January, so it is ideal timing for growers to consider options for planting.
“Through improved industry costs and the balance on return, these varieties will assist South Australian stone fruit industry to grow a superior quality product to reach greater markets.”
The Riverland Field Days will provide interested growers the opportunity to discuss the new varieties with the Leader of SARDI’s Fruit Tree Breeding program Darren Graetz and industry representatives as well as taste a sample from one of the new lines of dried fruit.
Mr Graetz said consumer desire for fresh apricots had been affected in recent years due to Australia’s dependence on imported Californian and European varieties.
“Whilst these imported varieties may look good on the shelf, they fail to deliver in terms of juiciness and flavour and this reduced eating quality hasn’t left consumers wanting more,” said Mr Graetz.