The State Government has officially unveiled 17 new and improved varieties of apricots specifically bred to maximise returns to growers.

The apricots have been specially bred to provide growers with a competitive advantage through improved dry ratio and cropping reliability, in addition to enhancing the consumer experience through a tastier and juicier fruit.

The new varieties have been developed by the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) at the Loxton Research Centre, in conjunction with industry bodies including Australian Dried Tree Fruits Association, Summer Fruit SA and Horticulture Innovation Australia.

All of the fruit evaluations, as part of the National Apricot Breeding program were conducted in the SARDI labs at Waite. This included all of the consumer preference sensory panel work for both fresh and dried fruit; liaising with SARDI’s food technology team regarding the drying methods (in particular naturally dried product without sulphurs); and the dried fruit storage trials (time for fruit to darken), which were undertaken in SARDI’s post-harvest complex and cool rooms at Waite.

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone said the ability for growers to utilise the new apricot varieties is a competitive edge for the industry going into apricot season.

“The release of the new apricot varieties was the culmination 35 years of research and these 17 new varieties will provide an important boost to South Australia’s stone fruit and dried fruit industries,” said Minister Whetstone.

“Important research has enabled the dried fruit industry to advance from having just three key varieties of apricots available to 20 with a competitive edge in terms of higher quality fruit and better crop reliability.”

“Through improved industry costs and the balance on return, these varieties will assist South Australian stone fruit industry to grow a superior quality product to reach greater markets.”

Leader of SARDI’s Fruit Tree Breeding program Darren Graetz said consumer desire for fresh apricots had been affected in recent years due to Australia’s dependence on imported Californian and European varieties.

“Whilst these imported varieties may look good on the shelf, they fail to deliver in terms of juiciness and flavour and this reduced eating quality hasn’t left consumers wanting more,” said Mr Graetz.

Pictured at the launch at Riverland Field Days: Summer Fruits Australia’s Jason Size, SARDI’s Darren Graetz, Minister Tim Whetstone and SARDI Executive Director Dr Peter Appleford

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