Eleven new blueberry varieties are being made available to New Zealand growers, with the aim of increasing export opportunities.
The crown research institute, Plant and Food Research, has licensed the new offerings, which it said produced larger fruit with good flavour and had been adapted to grow in a wider range of climates.
Plant varieties manager Emma Brown said the new varieties were more robust, which made them better suited for international freight.
“There’s a range of new genetics, with improved characteristics and a range of adaptability for growing regions across New Zealand,” Brown said.
“The fruit is typically slightly more robust and through the improved firmness of the fruit they just last longer in storage.”
Marketing and innovation general manager Gavin Ross said the varieties presented a significant opportunity for New Zealand growers to improve their blueberry production.
“We hope the addition of these new varieties to the suite of plants available to growers will help expand the blueberry sector and increase export opportunities over the next decade,” Ross said.
In order to cultivate and sell the new types, growers would need to apply for non-exclusive licence, along with an arrangement which earns royalties for Plant and Food Research.
Three of the 11 varieties are from the organisation’s own breeding programme and eight licensed from Fall Creek Farm & Nursery in the USA.
New Zealand produces 3000 tonnes of blueberries each year from 640ha of growing land. Exports are valued at about $40 million annually.