NEW mango varieties developed by the National Mango Breeding Program for more than a decade will be trialled on the Barkly at Ali Curung, about 400km north of Alice Springs, in an attempt to extend the mango harvest window with high quality fruit.
The new varieties 1243, 1201 and 4069 may not have catchy names but at least one of the varieties, 1243, has created a buzz around the industry in recent times.
As Rural Weekly reported, 1243 was the star of the International Mango Symposium in Darwin last year.
Department of Primary Industry research leader for the Plant Industry Development Group, Cameron McConchie, said at the time variety 1243 had the potential to, at least, more than double a producer's fruit yield.
"At the moment producers reap about 10 tonne of fruit per hectare and this variety produces about 25 tonne,” Mr McConchie said.
"The fruit is also more consistent off the tree.
"Its size, colour and flavour are more consistent. So it makes sense, it's all about quality,” Mr McConchie said.
The department is testing the NMBP varieties in a number of locations, now including the Ali Curung area for the first time.
Central Australian Horticulture Development project manager Stuart Smith said the area had some natural advantages for fruit production.
"This is out of the frost zone, but being further south there is less humidity, so we might see a better quality fruit produced,” he said.
Mr Smith said the trial presented significant potential for improving consistency of supply.
"There are mango farms further north at Katherine and 200km south at Ti Tree, but Ali Curung is untested.
"Establishing trees at this latitude may bridge the gap between the northern mango production in September/ October, and fruit from Ti Tree in January/February.
"We'll be monitoring when plants flower and produce fruit to hopefully build more consistent supply to southern and overseas markets.”
The new hybrid mango varieties are the first fruits of the National Mango Breeding Program, a joint effort by the Northern Territory, Western Australia, Queensland and CSIRO to develop superior mangoes by crossing Kensington Pride with a range of other varieties. These are now being commercialised by the Australian Mango Industry Association.
Established varieties will also be included in the trial, including Kensington Pride, R2E2 and Honey Gold.
Mr Smith said the Ali Curung trial was a collaboration between industry and the Department of Primary Industry and Resources, which provided irrigation and support with planting.
"The plants are at the Ali Curung melon farm ready to go,” he said.
In total Mr Smith said 10 rows of trees with 4m spacing and about 140m long would be planted.
"It's a high density planting trial that we will be undertaking because we believe the area will be suited to it.
"One issue that we may find is that the sun is a bit too intense for the fruit, so it may mean that they need to be covered with mesh.”
Mr Smith said it would take three to four years before the trial bore fruit.
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