A Chilean nursery has carried out the country’s first harvest of a New Zealand-origin blueberry variety called Centra Blue, and expects to release the genetics to the country’s growers next year.
Centra Blue was developed by the Oceanian country’s Plant & Food Research organization.
“It is a late variety that covers the period from the month of February but with fruit from Chile’s central area, which will mean that it won’t be necessary to plant further south in the country to harvest in that period,” Viverosur director Alejandro Navarro told Fresh Fruit Portal.
“We introduced this variety into the country a few years ago through [New Zealand company] Enza, a specialist in the marketing of apples who helped us develop it here along with other blueberry varieties.
Raul Dastres, president of exporter Valle Maule, highlighted a major advantage of Centra Blue was that it was not prone to damage from rains that can occur during this period.
“This variety looks very interesting, as despite being a rabbiteye its appearance is more typical of a highbush because of the shape of its crown, and it also has the advantage of being highly productive,” he said.
Centra Blue measures around 18mm (0.7 inches), is easy to prune due to the plant’s vigorous nature and is very precocious in the farms, according to agronomic engineer Luis Espindola.
Navarro added he had first seen the variety a few years ago in New Zealand, where it caught his attention due to the harvest period and fruit sizing, and led him to later carry out tests in Chile.
“We are seeing a lot of interest in it, and we believe that the only way to ensure success of new varieties is to first validate them in Chile and study their postharvest characteristics really well,” he said.
“Our key markets are very far away and having a good postharvest life is fundamental in for the introduction of new varieties in the country.”