01 Dec 2020

BLUEBERRIES, AUSTRALIAN MBO VARIETIES SUCCEED IN CHILE

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Varieties from the Australian Mountain Blue Orchard(MBO)breeding program arecharacterised by their high yield and agronomic characteristics (fast growth, easy fruit set, easy cultivation, easy harvest).

In recent years, the market for new varieties of blueberries for the industry has not stopped growing, and the reasons for this permanent supply of new alternatives are many.

Over the next decade, it is expected that the production map of blueberry will expand to regions that will need increasingly special varieties, which will have to adapt to soils or climatic realities that are very different from the history of this crop.

Geography and consumers

On the other hand, what has driven this great development of breeding and the supply of new varieties, are the high quality requirements imposed by consumers in the most important markets, which force producers to renew their genetic material in order not to lose competitiveness or market position.

This varietal availability also had to be adapted with the development of new management and production techniques, such as hydroponics, with the use of protective covers and substrates in bags or pots to replace precarious, unsuitable or lacking water resources for growing blueberry.

Genetics from Australia

The Mountain Blue Orchard (MBO) plant breeding programme, created by Ridley Bell, has been developing the main varieties Northern Highbush and Southern Highbush since 1975. The programme includes early, mid and late season varieties, and some of the most important varieties are large scale varieties like Eureka and Twilight. In general, blueberries MBOs have premium qualities, such as jumbo size, long shelf life, higher sweetness, good hardness and consistency.

The Snackberries company made the arrival of these new genetics possible in Chile and holds the production and marketing licence. Francisco Soler, general manager of the company, says that as these varieties begin to produce results and gain the trust of growers, they will multiply among their associates.

What are the main qualities of MBO varieties for Chilean producers?

The MBO varieties are characterised by their high yield and agronomic characteristics (fast growth, easy fruit set, easy cultivation, easy harvesting). Also noteworthy is the large size and firmness of the berry, as well as its qualities of crisp fruit, good texture and great flavour. The most important varieties are Eureka and Eureka Gold, which have a long post-harvest life.

MBO has a wide variety of alternative plants from blueberry for early, mid and late season crops. The varieties are chosen for specific markets and are intended for regions where they will have the best results, in terms of yield and time.

What are the results and where have they been obtained?

The results in Chile are very promising, this is our second harvest, last year's was small but this year we have good volumes. On our main farm in Curicó, we have planted all the varieties, which allows us to carefully evaluate which ones have a better yield and under which conditions. We are very satisfied with the quality, size, texture and flavour of the fruit. The demand has been very good and the feedback from our customers has been exceptionally positive.

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To date, fourteen varieties have arrived, eleven of which are in production and in general the behaviour is very homogeneous. These are varieties that adapt easily to the Chilean soil and obtain excellent yields from the first years of harvest.

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