Thursday, June 3, 2010

New varieties could bring Florida to year-round production

Excerpts from an article found in The Packer Special sections: Florida Avocados written by Doug Ohlemeier published on 05/28/2010 09:52AM

Development of new varieties such as the Wheeling variety could bring late and early season production that could close south Florida’s spring gap and help move the deal to near year-round production.

Brooks Tropicals Inc., Homestead, Fla., has started growing two new varieties that produce fruit during the end of one season and before the start of the next season.The first variety, called wheeling in honor of Brooks’ president, Craig Wheeling, is timed to harvest in March and April.The second variety, called Brooks later, is scheduled to start harvesting in mid-April with harvesting running through late May.

"The wheeling variety is scheduled to begin shipments during the 2010-11 season, while Brooks’ later variety remains in early stages of development and won’t be commercially available until the end of the 2012-13 season," said Bill Brindle, vice president of sales management.

Because Florida’s season normally misses the two biggest events for avocados — January’s Super Bowl and Cinco de Mayo — Brindle said the new patented varieties could help south Florida’s avocado deal capture more sales.

“Any extension of the season to take advantage of those events would be great news for our industry,” Brindle said. “We are excited that in a few years from now, we could come very close to having a year-round Florida avocado program.

If the trials are successful, Brindle said Brooks plans to plant more acres to provide more promotable volume.

“There are some promising varieties out there. The varieties they are creating are unbelievable.” While growers grow up to 30 commercial avocado varieties, supermarkets typically feature six to eight varieties on their shelves, Brindle said.