South Africa: Promising future expected for Gala strain discovery
A new Gala apple strain that was discovered by Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing new varietal expert PJ (Buks) Nel has delivered a 93% pack-out following its first 60-bin harvest.
“We hoped for a 90% pack-out, which is already a 30% improvement on Gala strains, so to have delivered a 93% pack-out...is very impressive," he said.
Tru-Cape managing director Roelf Pienaar says Bigbucks, along with previous Gala varietal discoveries Royal Beaut and Corder Gala, are helping the company to lead in the development of better strains and growing practices.
“We are incredibly proud of Buks. This discovery is the just reward of a lifetime of passion and commitment to the fruit industry and frequent orchard walks - something of a rarity nowadays,” he says.
According to Pienaar, the first Bigbucks the company exported into the Far East and Middle East have arrived as expected and the initial feedback has been "overwhelmingly positive."
"Our customers are very excited about the potential of this variety. Good news all around”, Pienaar says.
“Deep in its soul a Gala is an unstable varietal with between 5% and 50% of trees planted not being true to type," Nel explains:
"Bigbucks is the exception so growers know when they plant a Bigbucks tree they will always get Bigbucks fruit. Another, albeit cosmetic improvement, is the deep full wine red that the fruit achieves from early in its life while most Gala types are striped.
"While redness is usually an indication of ripeness, with Bigbucks the fruit is full red from the start. Normally a Gala tree needs to be picked on three different occasions to find fruit of the right color spec, now, if need be, trees can be picked once."
Bigbucks has registered Plant Breeder’s Rights which are held by a company, Pink Vein, in which Nel and growers Derek Corder and Anthony Rawbone-Viljoen own shares.
It takes its name from the characteristic pink vein that runs down the center of the leaf like a life-giving artery.
“In 2016 Tru-Cape growers planted 95,000 trees on 50 hectares and this winter we’ll plant 171,000 trees on 90 hectares," Nel said.
"By next year we expect to have planted more than half a million trees on 300 hectares. Everyone is looking for a stable Gala."
According to Tru-Cape grower and procurement manager Calla du Toit, who is also chair of the Bigbucks Growers Association, Bigbucks trees planted in Ceres show the same potential as those planted in Grabouw.
Nel says that Bigbucks will be picked and stored in the same way as other Gala types.