NZ: Seeka to bolster plantings of new avocado variety

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NZ: Seeka to bolster plantings of new avocado variety

An avocado variety with less alternate bearing and slightly later harvest windows is set for growth in New Zealand over the coming years. gem

Integrated produce marketer Seeka obtained the New Zealand license from the variety GEM from South Africa-based master license holder Westfalia in 2014.

Seeka chief technical officer Dr. Jonathan Dixon tells the GEM is a "very attractive-looking" and "good eating" fruit that was bred by the University of California’s avocado breeding program.

"We also think it’s going to ship very well, and so our thoughts are that it would be well accepted in the Asian markets," he says

"The harvest window is likely to be November through to March or perhaps April, whereas Hass is generally harvested in August through the beginning of March."

This timeframe is particular relevant for New Zealand's main avocado export market Australia.

"We export between September to end of February, maybe even into March, and generally in that period after Christmas there’s a lower Australian supply of avocados, and so the New Zealand fruit help fill in that period.

"We're seeing that’s an opportunity for a slightly later maturing avocado like GEM to fit into that period.

"The other thing is avocado consumption growth in terms of how much people are eating has grown very strongly in the last few years."

He emphasizes the reason more planting didn't take place earlier is simply a reason of limited available propagating material.

"Currently we’ve been in a phase of bulking up source trees for propagation purposes because GEM was imported into New Zealand back around the turn of the century, so we had a small number of trees we could draw budwood off.

"Our plan in the first couple of years is to work with our interested growers or license holders, and plant somewhere between 6,000-9,000 trees in 2017 and a similar number in 2018."


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