Growers of blueberries in New Zealand have been given access to new varieties with 'big, tasty fruit' that are ideal for export overseas. Of the 11 new varieties of blueberry that Plant and Food Research has made available, three are from the organisation's breeding programme and eight have been licensed from Fall Creek Farm and Nursery in the US.
In addition, three varieties are Southern Highbush, seven are Northern Highbush and one is Rabbiteye. The varieties produce large, good tasting fruit, with a range of seasonality throughout 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 production of blueberries and offer new and tasty blueberries to consumers at home and abroad," said Gavin Ross, group general manager of 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 range of plants available to growers will help expand the blueberries industry 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 in New Zealand and to market and sell them worldwide. Growers who sign a licence agreement will be able to place orders with licensed nurseries. Plant and Food Research said it will obtain royalty payments from the licence agreement, which will be used for further research to benefit New Zealand's agri-food industries.
New Zealand currently produces 3,000 tonnes of blueberries on 640 hectares, with exports valued at NZ$39 million.