Blueberry growers in New Zealand have been given access to new varieties with ‘large, tasty fruit’, ideal for export overseas.
Of the 11 new blueberry varieties Plant and Food Research has made available, three are from the organisation’s own breeding programme and eight licensed from Fall Creek Farm and Nursery in the US.
Moreover, three varieties are Southern Highbush, seven are Northern Highbush and one is Rabbiteye. The varieties produce large fruit with good flavour, with a range of seasonality across the collection. All have shown good adaptability to New Zealand conditions in trials to date.
“These new varieties offer a significant opportunity for New Zealand growers to improve their blueberry production and offer new, tasty blueberries to consumers at home and overseas,” said Gavin Ross, group general manager marketing and innovation for Plant and Food Research.
“The new varieties produce tasty berries with high consumer appeal and grow well in New Zealand conditions.
“We hope the addition of these new varieties to the suite of plants available to growers will help expand the blueberry sector and increase export opportunities over the next decade,” he added.
Growers have been invited to apply for a non-exclusive licence to cultivate and grow the varieties for fruit production in New Zealand and for the marketing and sale of fruit worldwide. Growers who sign up to a licence agreement will be able to place orders with authorised nurseries.
New Zealand currently produces 3,000 tonnes of blueberries from 640ha of land, with exports valued at NZ$39m.
Plant and Food Research said it will gain royalty payments from the licensing arrangement, which will be used to further research that benefits New Zealand’s agrifood industries.