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Hand pollination breeding next Australian mango success

Hand cross-pollination of mango plants may have produced the next export success story for the Australian mango industry, with two new varieties – Lady Jane and Lady Grace – destined to hit overseas shelves starting from next season.

 “Lady Jane was planted about two years ago and is developing nicely, Lady Grace will be planted later this year. We’ve got trial plantings already in Spain and South Africa and we’re looking at getting plantings into the US, now that that market for fresh Australian mangoes has opened up,” says Sevenfields Managing Director Richard Byllaardt. 

“Spain has had trial plantings for five years, and South Africa for 2 years and we’ve definitely got growers interested in taking the new varieties on in all the Mediterranean counties, South America, China, Mexico and the USA.” 

The new varieties will be harvested about one to two weeks earlier than Kensington Pride mangoes are, and there are a few thousand trees in the ground at Katherine, in the Northern Territory, where the original cross pollination to develop these varieties took place, according to Mr Byllaardt.

The mangoes will particularly suit export markets because the skin is firmer, better able to withstand transport, flesh is firmer, and the shelf life in the fridge appears to be at least one month, according to Ken Rayner, the retired cattle station worker who took to growing and pollinating mangoes more than 30 years ago. 

Rayner is working hard on cross-pollination at the moment as plants have started to flower profusely thanks to excellent conditions in the Northern Territory over the past few weeks.

The yield and flavor profile are both good for Lady Jane and Lady Grace mangoes, according to Rayner.

“To date they appear to be better producers than other varieties. We won’t really know that definitively for a couple of years until all the trees mature, but early indications are that they are better producers.” 

The flavor of the Lady Grace is a ‘Florida’ flavor at first, but after the first bite it has its own unique taste, he tells Fresh Plaza.

 ‘Florida’ flavor means that the variety is reminiscent of one of a number of mango varieties that originated in Florida in the US and came to Australia around 40 years ago.

Mango cross-pollination by hand is no easy task, just ask Rayner, one of only two people in Australia carrying out the painstaking work of selecting, picking and rubbing together the pollens from the suitable male and female panicles of mango plants each day. 

He has to time his work exactly to the two hour window when the plants are able to be cross-pollinated, and only about one in 20,000 produces the desired characteristics, which are not observable for at least a month afterwards.

For his efforts, Rayner has secured breeding rights to both new varieties, so will receive small royalties from trees sold. 

Sevenfields will sell and market the new varieties in Australia, whilst Biogold International is partnering with Sevenfields under a legal agreement, to engage growers, distribute and market the trees and fruit internationally.

For more information

Richard Byllaardt, Managing Director
Phone: +61 3 5002 0502

Publication date: 6/18/2015
Author: Kalianna Dean

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