South Africa: Flash Gala brand launched for Bigbucks apples

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South Africa: Flash Gala brand launched for Bigbucks apples

The Flash Gala apple brand has been launched in South Africa for the newly released variety Bigbucks amid expectations it will disrupt the industry. 

With over a quarter of a million trees already purchased, Bigbucks - an improved Corder Gala apple strain - is now the most successful new variety in terms of orders placed in the history of the South African Plant Improvement Organisation since the launch date.

The variety is named after Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing’s new variety expert, Buks Nel.

Plant breeders' rights (PBR) were awarded to Bigbucks’ owners Pink Vein. The company comprises Buks Nel, Derek Corder, the grower who discovered Corder Gala, and Anthony Rawbone-Viljoen, on whose Oak Valley Estate the strain was found.

One of the variety's biggest grower benefits is the high packout percentage, allowing for more purchase-ready fruit from one tree than many other commercially grown apple or pear varieties.

“It all started on the afternoon of 18 January 2011, one of those few very hot days in Elgin. It was the deep wine-red colour that first caught my eye,” Buks Nel said.

“And the fact that unlike most Gala strains which are unstable deep within their souls, this one remains true to type. Reversion to the original poorer bi-coloured mutations is a negative characteristic that occurs relatively often.

"Galas are, on the other hand, also very prone to mutate into better coloured clones. Therefore, reversions (negative) and mutations (positive) are as much part of Gala strains as brandy is to Coke."

He said that poorer color and instability have for years hampered Royal Gala and its clones. 

"This figure could vary from 5% to 50%. The grower who plants a Bigbucks tree will have a saleable crop of FLASH GALA™ apples every time," he said.

"And, as the tree can be picked in one go, it is much more efficient than many other trees that need to be picked two or three times as fruit ripens and colours at different stages. We are achieving near 90% FLASH GALA™ packouts which is almost unheard of."

Calla du Toit, chair of the Bigbucks Growers Association and the Pink Lady Growers Association, said this find is the kind of reward that makes a lifetime of walking orchards in search of the perfect fruit worthwhile.

“Now, in Buks’ seventh decade, a find such as FLASH GALA™ is just reward for a lifetime of passion for the fruit industry and countless hours walking orchards in search of the next big thing," he said.

He said that in the fruit industry, a find like this is pretty much like discovering a new galaxy might be for astronomers.

"The reason that Buks was in the right place at the right time to notice the mutation on the Corder Gala is because he has dedicated his life to being in orchards every day, especially at apple ripening time," he said.

Anthony Rawbone-Viljoen says that the process to arrive at a brand name was a long one.

“It was right to name Bigbucks after Buks and with the promise that it would make big bucks for those who planted it," he said.

"We didn’t want to register a name that might suggest to the consumer that this fruit was expensive so we embarked on brainstorming names and then the process of searching that another hadn’t already registered the name or, that when sold in one of the over one hundred countries in which South African apples and pears are sold, that we would not be offending cultural sensitivities."

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