International Fruit Tree Association’s 2018 Study Tour and Conference in New Zealand


I had the opportunity in February to attend the International Fruit Tree Association’s (IFTA) 2018 Study Tour and Conference in New Zealand. From the Land of the Long White Cloud, I wrote home to the Record Eagle about our adventures on the South Island.

We made our way to Napier on the North Island, a coastal Art Deco city near Hawke’s Bay, the "Fruit Bowl of New Zealand," where we visited Plant and Food Research, a government-owned research institution. This research center highlighted their pipfruit breeding program, where the IFTA was introduced to and taste-tested a few apple varieties, Smitten and Rockit, as well as Piqaboo, a new red pear variety with Bartlett parentage.

Gala is the predominant NZ variety. Many varieties coming from New Zealand, like Smitten, Rockit and Cherish, have Gala parentage. Smitten also has two English varieties — Fiesta and Falstaff, and Braeburn — in the genetic mix. This variety is a red-orange apple with a sweet flavor much like a Fuji. In just a few years, northwest Michigananders will be able to enjoy local Smitten from Evans Brothers Fruit Company in Benzie County, which will have 10 acres of Smitten in the ground by next spring.

The IFTA has been an invaluable resource to growers, researchers and extension staff. The 2018 Study Tour was an excellent educational program. I couldn’t have asked for a better setting to network with growers and colleagues from across the globe. Lastly, many thanks to the IFTA for their continued support of young professionals like me through their scholarship program.

Article by Emily Pochubay, a fruit integrated post management educator with Michigan State University Extension

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