‘Rolls Royce of avocados’
A Waerenga-a-Hika couple believe they have developed a new variety of avocado that may one day become the most popular in the world.
David and Judi Grey have been growing avocados on their 13-hectare Bushmere Road property for more than 50 years.
In recent years they have developed three new varieties out of the Sharwil variety originating from Queensland back in the 1960s.
“We had a long-time association with a scientist from the University of California at Riverside and he put us onto the Sharwil variety,” Mr Grey said.
“The fruit were the nicest tasting avocados we had ever had.
“To us, they were the Rolls Royce of avocados.”
However, while the fruit were fantastic tasting, the Sharwil tree did not perform that well in terms of yield.
“Judi and I thought we could improve that performance — getting trees that produced more fruit while maintaining the quality of the fruit — and we have been able to do that.”
They have produced the Avogrey®Titan, Avogrey®Eclipse and Avogrey®GreyStar varieties out of the original Sharwil parent plants they selected from 30 seeds they planted.
“We only sell the fruit from those three varieties commercially to an outlet in Nelson.
“The Nelson operator tells us he has people stopping him in the street to ask when he's getting more stock in. They are that popular.”
The couple also sell some from their orchard.
“We have regular customers and that's all they want to buy when they come to see us.”
In an exciting development, an Australian nursery operator from Queensland came to see them three years ago about getting hold of some propagation stock from the new varieties.
“She has been to see us four times now as the project has developed.
“The propagation material went into quarantine almost two years ago in Melbourne to check for disease and viruses, and will be released out of quarantine to the Queensland nursery in January.
“Then the nursery operator will be able to begin to produce trees.”
Mr Grey said there had also been propagation material from the new varieties growing in quarantine in South Africa for about a year.
“Riversun Nursery have been propagating our new varieties and there are currently three orchards here looking to plant hundreds of the new trees.
“The trees are available only to commercial growers and are subject to royalty payments and marketing controls.”
So what is so special about the green-skinned new varieties?
“The fruit are dense and a beautiful yellow colour inside,” Mrs Grey said.
“They are creamy, nutty with no strings or discoloration — perfect every time.”
The couple said this was an exciting time for them as the new varieties took off.
“The Queensland nursery owner has told us she believes our new varieties will become the world's leading avocado varieties,” Mr Grey said.
“So this project will certainly keep us going for a few more years yet to see it through to fruition.”