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We’re finally seeing red… and that’s a good thing when it comes to new custard apple varieties

Publication date: 10 February 2022

This investment is funding the development and evaluation of new, high-yield green and red skin custard apple varieties, seeding rootstock selections, and giving Aussie growers the skills they need to grow the industry.

The challenge

The demand for new custard apple varieties is loud and clear. From redder skins to creamier fruit, growers want new options to diversify and grow the industry. To do that they need reliable, high-quality rootstock and world-class skills and this program delivers both.

Meet Daniel

Queensland custard apple grower Daniel Jackson knows firsthand the importance of investments like this in finding new varieties of custard apples. He’s also a realist who knows that game-changing research and development takes time and money.

“The elite varietal program has been running for quite some time. In saying that though these processes cannot be rushed as we need to be certain that the varieties released, especially the red variety, will meet the demands of both the commercial grower and consumer.”

“There is some really valuable research being conducted in this trial, and now, more so than ever, what consumers want, and demand is changing. As a grower, I need to be able to respond to this. This program has given us confidence that the industry is evolving. The new varieties, in particular the red varieties, have raised a lot of awareness, which, as a whole, is good for industry, including green the skin varieties.”

In addition to valuable research and development, this program also keeps growers up to date with the latest news, technology, techniques and training through field walks, presentations, and other communications. This is incredibly helpful to the industry and grower wellbeing more broadly, says Daniel.

“The roadshows have been extremely valuable. They allow growers, researchers, and industry bodies to all gather and discuss what concerns are out there in the industry: what direction we are heading and what needs to change. They’re also fulfilling a basic need for farmer wellbeing. At times farming is very lonely and challenging. These opportunities give growers a chance to meet other growers and talk. They’re invaluable.”

The approach

Building on 20 years of Australian breeding research, the current program continues the work of previous projects to develop innovative new varieties for Australian growers. The research team is evaluating new green and red skin custard apple varieties with good production yield and improved consumer acceptance. The research team also continues to develop new resources for growers to tackle the many crop management and production issues they face.

The impact

In the 2019/20 season, over 500 three-year-old hybrid seedlings were evaluated for their vigour and yield and had their fruit quality assessed, with some promising lines identified from the trials. The performance data of advanced stage-selections were also collected from research and grower trials in both New South Wales and Queensland. It is expected that the program will soon release new green and red varieties for grower adoption.