Australia: Montague starts Smitten-branded apple season
Harvests have kicked off in Australia for Montague’s newest apple brand Smitten, an early-season bi-colored cultivar bred by Plant & Food Research (P&F) in New Zealand.
In a release, Apple and Pear Australia Limited (APAL) said the apple – to be marketed under the tagline ‘Once bitten, forever smitten’ – would be available in select Queensland Coles stores this week, and would be available in the retailer’s New South Wales and Victorian shelves from next week.
This is the second harvest for the new apple, from the PremA17 variety, bred from Gala, Braeburn and the U.K. varieties Falstaff and Fiesta.
Montague general manager IP and business development Rowan Little said the company was excited to have such a sweet, crisp and juicy apple to start the new season
After the 1,200 cartons marketed last year had been well-received, selling out in under a fortnight, Montague will have slightly larger but still small volumes of around 5,000 cartons in 2018.
The association made a comparison with another New Zealand-bred variety Jazz, also manager by Montague, which began with 100 boxes in its first season just over a decade ago and now has in excess of 500,000 Scifresh (cultivar name) trees planted.
PremA17 is owned by the international variety development and commercialization company Prevar (a joint venture between APAL, PFR and Pipfruit NZ).
The first commercial plantings for the variety took place in 2013. Growers in the program are expecting to yield around 65t/ha of Smitten-branded fruit at full production.
Ripening in February, Smitten will be one of the first new season apples.
Little said Smitten looked like a Gala, but was stripier, firmer fleshed and had been selected for its eating appeal and early season maturity. Its firm flesh allowed it to pack well and it has a good shelf life.
“It is a very early apple, which harvests about the same time as Gala,” he said.
“It has a lovely flavour and a very good crunch.”
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