UC Riverside releasing new avocado variety
The University of California, Riverside (UCR) has announced the official release of the ‘BL516’ avocado scion cultivar in June 2023, the second avocado cultivar released by UCR in the last twenty years.
The university’s avocado scion breeding program began in the 1950s and is currently under the guidance of Dr. Mary Lu Arpaia, professor of extension, subtropical horticulture. The worldwide avocado varietal breeding program maintains one of the world’s largest avocado germplasm collections.
According to a UCR release, the ‘BL516’, with its slender upright growth habit, offers avocado growers a next-generation tree better adapted to the increasingly popular high-density plantings.
The new variety is a “B” flower type so it can serve as a pollinizer variety for ‘Hass’, '3-29-5' and other type “A” flower varieties.
According to Professor Arpaia, the new variety matures slightly later than ‘Hass’ and during ripening, the fruit turns from an emerald green color to glossy black, similar to ‘Hass’ and in line with current consumer preferences.
California growers will receive a reduction in royalties paid for planting and production of ‘BL516’, giving them an advantage over international avocado growers. Furthermore, all eligible California growers will be granted a sublicense upon request and agreement of a sublicense from Eurosemillas, ensuring widespread availability of ‘BL516’ within the state.
This is possible thanks to the support of the California avocado industry via the California Avocado Commission (CAC) of UCR’s avocado scion breeding program which dates to the 1950s and has provided millions of dollars in the scion breeding efforts through 2016.
‘BL516’ is also the first scion cultivar to be released under the partnership between UCR and Eurosemillas S.A. which started in 2020 and has sponsored the program to deliver the most promising and advanced avocado scions and rootstocks in its collection to market.
Eurosemillas is positioned to lead the global commercialization of the variety, under Green Motion, an international platform with partners in 15 countries, established to accelerate the commercialization of UCR’s avocado scions and rootstock cultivars.
"We are thrilled to introduce the 'BL516' variety, which showcases the direction of our program and the immense potential it holds for the avocado industry," indicates Arpaia.
UCR's avocado breeding program remains committed to pushing the boundaries of innovation.
With ongoing research efforts and the Green Motion platform, UCR aims to streamline the commercialization process for its avocados, ensuring that future varieties continue to captivate markets and consumers alike.