Chile to grow NZ blueberry varieties

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Chile to grow NZ blueberry varieties

Chilean nursery Viverosur will grow New Zealand-developed blueberry varieties next year as part of a test program.

The varieties 'Blue Moon' and 'Centra Blue' were developed by Plant & Food Research in New Zealand and are traded by Enza Limited under the brand ENZABlue, while Viverosur holds the exclusive license for South America and Mexico.

Blue Moon

Viverosur director Alejandro Navarro, told the nursery would start an evaluation program to see how the varieties grow in Chile, testing how early or late they were in country's environment.

He said Viverosur would look for the best partners in different countries within the license region to develop a closed program that benefits both producers and marketers.

"We hope to fill a space that still needs to be developed, with a special emphasis on the market for late Chilean fruit," he said.

He said the move was important for Chile, with the growing program set to focus on post-harvest and disease resistance qualities. In New Zealand the varieties themselves have a post-harvest life of at least four weeks.

Blue Moon

"And when I looked to the Moon it turned to gold." Blue Moon, written by Richard Rogers and Lorenz Hart.

Plant & Food Research blueberry breeder Dr Jessica Scalzo, said both the varieties had a medium-to-low winter chill which led to optimal flowering and vegetative bud breaks.

"Blue Moon has been obtained within a breeding program for developing large fruited highbush that could be grown in the open field or in pot under a protected environment like a tunnel or a glasshouse," she said.

"Blue Moon arose from controlled crosses and was selected amongst thousands of seedlings for its superior fruit flavor and firmness, in particular under extreme heat.

"The variety grows in different New Zealand environments, from the North Island to the top of the South Island and has also been tested in tunnels and glasshouses."

Viverosur says the variety's advantage is its size of around 3.5 grams per fruit, making it one of the largest early  blueberries, with good characteristics of firmness, productivity and post-harvest life.

Centra Blue

Scalzo said the Centra Blue blueberry is a rabbiteye variety for the late season crop, with extended cropping from summer to early autumn. In New Zealand it is the latest blueberry variety currently available to growers.

"The selection criterion adopted for developing Centra Blue were the late flowering, after late frost, and the late cropping compared with standard varieties grown in New Zealand.

"In addition to the late cropping, Centra Blue has high agronomic performances in terms of plant yield, fruit size, firmness and fruit appearance.

"Centra Blue is cultivated in different locations in New Zealand and it is recommended in those with warm autumns and to producers who want to differentiate their production by introducing a variety suitable for the fresh fruit market late in the season."

Navarro said the variety has a size of around 2.4 grams per fruit, with its key advantages of its firmness and good post-harvest qualities.

"This variety is a great alternative for late harvests. In New Zealand it is harvested in February, March and April, which is a great alternative for Chile," he said.

"Centra Blue is one of the few late varieties with a sweet flavor, it's not acidic like the majority of its type."

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Chile's blueberry industry 'plagued' by old varieties


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