Fruit Image Samples

Plumcot

 

Jujube - Li

 

Fig - Brown Turkey

 

Pluot - Flavor Rich

 

Fruit Information Samples

Avocado - Hass

Hass - 'A' Type - Guatemalan - Mexican hybrid

Mr Rudolph Hass of Whittier in California grew a chance seedling in the late 1920s and patented it in 1935. This black skinned variety was difficult to sell at first but soon became popular due to its different ripening time and its superior quality than avocados available at the time.

It is the most popular variety due to both its superior taste and excellent keeping qualities. The medium sized fruit is pear-shaped with an excellent creamy nut flavoured flesh, no fibre and a small seed held tightly in its cavity. The leathery rough dark-purple skin turns to black when ripe. Contains 18 to 22% oil.

Fruit has a tendency to be undersized except in New Zealand.

This is the leading cultivar in New Zealand, representing 50% of all commercial plantings and 25% in Queensland.

Season begins in Queensland mid-November to March.


Blueberry Types

Blueberry -  Vaccinium corymbosum - are classified into 3 major species.

Lowbush, Highbush and Rabbiteye.

Blueberries have a shallow fibrous root system and will only thrive on moist, free draining acid soils with a high proportion of organic matter. Well drained peat soils are ideal, but mineral soils such as sandy or silt loams are also suitable, provided peat moss is added during planting and on a regular basis afterwards.

Fruit is borne on last season’s wood, and vigorous wood bears the largest fruit. Flower buds are formed on the outer parts of the current season's growth in late summer as the stems mature. Minimum pruning consists of removal of dead or diseased wood, weak growth, and old twiggy branches.

Blueberries are self-fertile, but they will produce greater amounts of fruit if at least two varieties are planted.

   Lowbush - Vaccinium angustifolium which has very limited distribution.

   Highbush - Vaccinium corymbosum (Highbush blueberry) which is the form mostly grown commercially. This species has a high chill requirement so is only grown in orchards in cooler districts.

   Rabbiteye - Vaccinium ashei (Rabbiteye blueberry) which is the type grown for Garden Centres since it has a low chill requirement and will perform well over the whole country. There are several varieties to choose from, allowing you to harvest fruit from January to April. Rabbiteye blueberries are deciduous but may hold foliage through most of the winter on young plants and in milder climates.


Samples of Articles from our Newsletters

The Fignificent Forgotten Fig   br John Rance

 

It just doesn't figure that the dependable fig tree, the fruit tree most valued by our pioneering forefathers, has become to this generation, the forgotten fig. Once esteemed and cherished, it has now become a fruit of inconvenience. A whole generation of kids are growing up without ever tasting a fresh fig, or even knowing what they look like.

 

Last century fig connoisseurs would gather together, to discuss and vote on the delicate differences between their many varieties. In some parts of Europe the science of growing the fig to perfection had become an art worth bragging about.

 

So what happened between then and now to lower the figs status, from up there rivalling 'the apple', to so low that our kids have never seen one. Has the fig changed so much ? Or have we changed so much ? Why is it so rare to find fresh figs at the fruit & veg stall or in the supermarket ? And if you do find them, they are nothing to rave about anyway. Are they so hard to grow ? No, I can't think of any fruit tree that is less demanding or so easy to grow. So what has happened?

 

The answer in a nut shell is, we have become creatures of convenience rather then pursuers of quality. The emphasis has shifted from "what is best for the consumer" to "what is the best for the supplier." This ideal back yard tree is not an ideal commercial orchard tree. The fig may hold its place in history, but it can't hold its place on the shelf. The fig may ripen to perfection on the tree, but they won't hold perfection on the shelf There are lots of things the growers don't like about figs, and some things the supermarkets don't like about them, but as a back yard tree they out perform all else.

 

Across Australia the fig tree collections are being destroyed. The Agricultural Research Stations are no longer studying the potential of the fig. The humble fig has been sentenced to commercial doom. This is despite the fact that it is better suited to SA and WA growing conditions than almost any other fruit tree. Its potential is right up there with the olive and the quondong.

 

Before the Loxton collection was destroyed, we were able to acquire cuttings of each of their 18 varieties. These have been distributed amongst interested members. Several members taking full collections. Since this initial collection we have collected further material from around Australia. We have new varieties from Perth WA., Gosford NSW., Darwin NT., Alice Springs NT., and Mt. Gambier SA. Our collection now stands at around 40 varieties. Making it by far Australia's largest gene-pool. it is important that we keep track of as many of these cultivars as possible, for many were on the verge of being lost completely-and many others would have become untraceable. As we can sort out and grow-on these new varieties we hope to make them available to the members.

 

Who knows, maybe the day will come when Adelaide will become the FIG CONNOISSEUR CAPITAL of the WORLD, and our members will hold Fig tasting Soirees-make pleasant chatter about their latest delicacies, and boasting of their figurative expertise. Only time will tell if this is just a figment of my exasperation!


 

Behind the Scenes   by Andrew Thompson

 

Rare Fruit Society, a review of progress

 

What is happening behind-the-scenes in the Rare Fruit Society? As a society we encourage the propagation and preservation of rare at and unusual plants, probably each and everyone is doing this in some way, but what is the society achieving as a whole organisation?

 

Seed merchants and nurseries are steering away from open pollinated plants and the older varieties which haven't a plant patent. It is up to groups like the Rare Fruit Society to preserve these plants for their wider attributes than just marketability.

 

Rescue efforts
In recent years we have rescued plants from destruction - Research programs are dollar dependent so if something does not generate the money needed it is axed, the Loxton fig collection was one such example. Our society rescued most of these fig varieties before the bulldozers moved in.


Heritage collections

In the past few years apple and pear varieties have been collected with much of this bud-wood being made available during our July grafting sessions. As part of this preservation project for heritage apple varieties in South Australia we have been photographing the apple varieties and endeavouring to eventually have descriptions of all these apples and also pears. Initially this doesn't sound like a huge task until you realise that we already have approximately 200 varieties of apples and 30 plus varieties of pears. We are just starting to embark on a plum and apricot collection. We record our grateful thanks to Wicks Nurseries for major assistance in this project.

 

In an effort to consolidate these collections we encourage everyone in the society to record names of varieties in their own collection. A number of the present and past committee members have started this task and tended to be surprised when we actually write down what we have. Besides recording the collections of heritage species this is part of an "insurance policy" to have multiple copies of each variety in different locations.


Subtropical and climate databank

The other aim and high priority is to be able to create a record of which subtropicals can be grown the various climate regions around South Australia. For example citrus trees are subtropical and most regions people can grow at least some varieties. Mangoes can be subtropical, who has a mango in the ground and fruiting? The creation and compiling of this information is going to take some time however, and we need to be mindful of members privacy and security. Members could use this information to great advantage, we need not "reinvent the wheel" but learn from each other as to what fruit may flourish where. We can still experiment with different varieties and methods of cultivation to extend our range of fruit. Watch out for more information on the climatic databank.


 

Swimming Against the Tide   by Tony Stevens
 

Epicurean horticulturists, we may possibly have a deeper role in this trans national corporate world. John Rance clarified my vague unease about commercial fruit when he mentioned that taste entered a list of desirable characteristics at about number ten. It makes sense to the money makers to select fruit which has a terrific appearance with plenty of size, gloss and this years colour and also matures all at once for efficient picking and has a prodigious shelf life so profits are not threatened by wilting, shrivelling rotting stock.

 

Transport is the other big area of worry, fruit must be very robust to survive picking, sorting, packing, loading and unloading and setting out for display. This article will not stray into the discussion over the spraying of fruit even though I would like to explore the number of sprays applied against cosmetic blemish pests.

 

The customer is thus presented with a very attractive display of large glossy colourful fruit. The customer hands over the purchase price and the financially rewarding process is confirmed. Don't blame the growers and the corporations and the breeders when it is the customer who selects and thus drives the process.

 

Is this a fair summary of the situation? Does the customer actually have choice? Where do you go to find fruit where flavour and scent are paramount?

 

Rare fruit growers who battle climate and pests may have the pleasure of picking direct from the tree and tasting a naturally ripe, aromatic and richly flavoured naturally ripe, aromatic and richly flavoured fruit, hopefully with long and staggered periods of maturity so we can pick our harvest off the tree over days and weeks. Provided of course that we planted a variety which expresses all these characteristics.

 

Where do such varieties come from? If the breeders are rewarded by commercial imperatives and nurseries propagate mainly commercial varieties, where do we get varieties which have flavour first and maybe staggered maturity as well?

 

Heritage Varieties - Our society has done well in preserving heritage varieties which have characteristics more in keeping with our aims. Even here there are more questions than answers. Were these old varieties grown for pest resistance in the time before chemical pesticides? Were they chosen for long life storage in the times before controlled atmosphere? Were they selected for a specific purpose such a pie or jam making or for drying? Maybe they were the forerunners of the big glossy fruit, good to sell to townies at the local fruit market.

 

If you have an enthusiasm for fruit archivist work then you efforts are much appreciated but at present we do not have a clearly defined method of dissemination of such records. We have reached area the essential first stage of saving and conserving varieties unwanted commercially.

 

Where do we go from here? Who has what? Who wants to know more about their heritage varieties? Who is prepared to find out and record the information? Seed saver organisations are facing similar problems and are developing formats for members to record and share information, perhaps our society should lease with them to avoid reinventing the wheel.

 

Our field trip to Loxton allowed us to see the reality of a commercial breeding program. Jenny Witherspoon, as guest speaker, had guided us theoretically around the world in her search for desirable drying apricot traits and explained the breeding program. She then guided us through the reality of the trial orchards. We were very grateful to make some of our own selections from the new varieties produced, using our own criteria of desirability. The stumps of felled trees which had already failed to show any desirable features reminded us what a big effort this breeding and selection procedure entails. Grow a thousand trees knowing that over 99% will probably fail to meet the combination of characters required.

 

Our society does not have the resources to mount the huge commercial breeding campaigns but we can make use of the free production of new fruit varieties which occurs in a chaotic and random way all around us, the ongoing procession of new varieties which are seedling trees.

 

Think of the figs, the peaches, the apricots, the loquats and above all the olives which sprout and survive in wilder parts of gardens and blocks of land. A phrase like "It just came up by itself but it tastes really nice", could be a trigger for action, graft it on, give it a name, test it out and maybe share it around. Some members of the society, notably John Rance, are well down the track in seeking out and propagating these valuable seedling selections. How about you?

 

Will this article just fill space and be one member's little philosophical rave? Can we use this newsletter or our website or some other means of recording and sharing our new discoveries and old heritage stock?

 

Your committee will be very happy to record your information. Our strength is as a group with diverse enthusiasms but together we can amass a very substantial collection of gourmet fruit to add quality of experience to our world.


 

Climate Change and the Future of Fruit Growing in S.A.
by Graham Brookman - The Food Forest, Gawler

Humans are a clever species but are still driven by deep instinctual behaviour and have a need for tribal alliances.

It all worked well as we fought for survival in a fierce world dominated by wild animals, but our development of weapons, machines, research and organisation have led to a somewhat too comfortable a world.

The population issue:-
A quarter of us are obese, a quarter are starving and about half are 'normal'
There are currently few limits to population growth and consumption
We are happily destroying land to feed ourselves

Our power to rapidly consume fossil fuels built up in the Earth's crust over millions of years has some other unfortunate consequences, those involving Peak Oil and Climate change.

Carbon dioxide consists of one carbon atom with an oxygen atom bonded to each side. When its atoms are bonded tightly together, the carbon dioxide molecule can absorb infrared radiation and the molecule starts to vibrate. The molecule will thus emit the energy again. This absorption-emission-absorption cycle caused by CO2 serves to keep the heat near the earth's surface, effectively insulating the surface from the cold of space.

Global symptoms:-
Arctic ice cap - 35% melted in one summer
Permafrost melting and releasing methane in vast quantities
Albedo effect to be lost
Pine bark beetle now has no winter kill; millions of hectares of forest dying in North America and Europe.
C02 was 275ppm before the industrial revolution; it is now at 385ppm and gaining about 2ppm per annum. 350ppm is regarded by James Hansen and other experts as the highest sustainable level. We must cut emissions by 80% by 2050 to return to a stable state.

*Hansen calls for a carbon tax and ramping up of nuclear power – it's too late for ETS's to work and too late to retrain an 'effluent society' as he sees things.

Modelled predictions for Australia
Rainfall and run-off will decrease while evaporation and transpiration increase, background temperature change, temperature extremes, frost incidence, extreme heat effects, wind fire and flood forecasts.

Likely impacts on current crop, pasture, livestock and horticultural systems.

Social effects – isolation, school, health etc.

Increased energy use for cooling will create a dangerous feedback loop.
Effects on fruit growing in South Australia will include sunburn of plants and fruit, and insufficient winter chill for some of the varieties now commonly grown.

Some spectacular failures already experienced at the Food Forrest include Emperor and Calmeria table grapes, Dayton, Vista Bella, Carolina, Legana and Alexander apples, Loquats and Walnuts, particularly those with thin foliage. ('Serr' was the only variety to come through unscathed).

Sunburn
On days of extreme temperature the surface of leaves and fruit can reach over 50ºC and severe damage will result. This may not always be obvious as fruit may look OK on the outside but be damaged on the inside and sending fruit to market in this state can have embarrassing consequences for the grower.

There are at present two ways to avoid the effects of sunburn, using shadecloth and the use of sunscreen sprays onto the trees. 50% shadecloth is used as a matter of course in urban agriculture situations in Cuba.

Sunscreen sprays are based on either clay or calcium carbonate (Lime) and are sold under the trade names 'Parasol' (for conventional growers, stocked by Elders) and 'Purshade' (organic, for detailed info SHeidrich@purfresh.com). They may also have beneficial effects in terms of soil structure and pH, but they must be applied systematically every few weeks as the fruit develops.

Chill requirement
A specific number of cumulative hours of chilling [also known as chill units] when temperatures remain between zero degrees and approx 7 degrees C are required to break dormancy. When a tree has accumulated its required number of chill units, active growth resumes in spring, as long as temperatures are warm enough for natural growth to begin. After winters with inadequate chilling, the plants leaf out late in the season, blossoming is prolonged, the trees buds may deteriorate or drop, and few, if any, flowers are produced. Without fertilised flowers, there is no fruit to harvest. .

There are a number of models for calculation of chill; a simplified explanation follows (a more detailed report is contained in 'Australian Nutgrower' June 06 (Vol 20 No.2). In assessing the chill hours, both the absolute number and distribution of the hours below 7 degrees need to be considered. The chilling requirements of selected temperate tree fruits and nuts expressed as the number of hours < 7 degrees C needed to break dormancy are shown in the Rare Fruit Society Newsletter of May 2009. A couple of months (say June, July) each accumulating 400 chill hours work well. If the required chill hours are concentrated in a few weeks interspersed with periods that are sunny and mild, then the seasonal total chilling hours are less effective.

Optimising yields with insufficient chill
All contemporary plantings should be designed with chill requirements and climate change in mind! Keep nitrogen and Zinc levels high before winter. Trees with low N and Zn need more chill. Avoid excessive vigour; fast growing upright shoots produce less bud break.

Pistachio growers have successfully tried the technique of spraying trees with 3-6% winter oil (during winter) when it is clear that the number of chill units accruing during the cool season may be insufficient. A trial on cherries in the Riverland last season showed that plant sunscreen can drop plant temperatures in winter, thus avoiding the loss of effective chill hours associated with warm days in winter and spring.

Conventional growers can spray with 1-2% Dormex, an artificial dormancy breaker. This option is not available to certified organic growers.

Heat tolerant low chill species and cultivars include Olive, Carob, Jujube, Pomegranate, Mulberry, and Feijoa. Well-watered Nashi, Quince, Citrus, White Sapote a well as some varieties of Pears and grapes, and Pecans.

Our current plantings at the Food Forrest include Jujube, Sfax Pistachio, Tempranillo red wine grapes, and low chill stone fruit and apples

Riverland wine grape growers are also particularly looking at heat tolerant varieties such as Vermentino and Fiano (white) and Nero d'Avola and Montepulchiano (red).

Permaculture
Permaculture is a design system that minimises fossil fuel use. Each important function within permaculture is supported by several elements, and each element performs more than one function. Use is made of biological and renewable resources – i.e. is there a way of getting a job done by organisms going about their normal life?

Examples of biological and renewable resources include recycling household waste and water to the garden, chooks to provide eggs, meat, manure etc, the use of soft-footed animals for weed control, and 'WWOOFers' - Willing Workers On Organic Farms –a renewable resource!
 


Image Samples from Field Trips

Citrus Seminar by Ian Tolley at Renmark

 

 

Sorting 62 Citrus Varieties ready to Photograph

 

 

Members at Organic Apple Orchard