The varieties, Riverbrite and River Ruby, were developed over a long-term breeding program run by the South Australian Research and Development Institute, according to an article featured in Horticulture Australia Limited’s newsletter Hortilinks.
Sunbeam Food general manager of fruit supply Chris Ellis said the release of the new varieties is a significant step for the dried fruit industry in Australia.
“The production of dried apricots in Australia has significantly decreased in recent years,” he said. “Where production was 2,500 tonnes 20 years ago, it has now declined to less than 300 tonnes. There’s market potential to take it up to 500 tonnes eventually, and we need to plan ahead. It’s a great opportunity, because Australian growers have a stable market supported by consistent pricing,” he added.
“The new varieties hold one of the keys to increasing the output of the Australian dried apricot industry. One of their significant advantages is that they have been specifically bred to be sized correctly, and are ideal for drying. They produce a large, succulent, thick-type fruit that is quite meaty, and as a more even tree in maturity, they can be targeted to higher density planting.”
According to the article the fruit also ripens on the trees more consistently and around 80 per cent of the crop can be picked from the ground, which significantly cuts back on labour costs.