By Matt Brann
Posted Mon at 12:25pm
PHOTO: NMBP 4069 mangoes ready for harvest in Kununurra, WA. (Supplied: DAFWA)
RELATED STORY: Mango growers want new varieties now
MAP: Kununurra 6743
Three varieties of mango, designed to look and taste better than fruit currently on the market are finally being released to growers in a long-awaited milestone for the National Mango Breeding Program (NMBP).
The hybrid mangoes, currently known as NMBP 1201, NMBP 1243 and NMBP 4069, have been developed over more than 20 years, and are sitting behind security fences on a handful of research farms across northern Australia.
AUDIO: Trevor Dunmall explains the commercial rollout of three new mango varieties (ABC News)
They made international headlines in 2010 when then-Northern Territory primary industry minister Kon Vatskalis suggested one of them be named after Kylie Minogue.
Australian Mango Industry Association (AMIA) industry development manager Trevor Dunmall said the commercial rollout had now begun.
"We've got a number of farms in a range of regions who have signed up, and we're in the process of getting the orders in and then getting trees on those farms over the next couple of months," he said.
"So the rollout is progressing steadily and we're still looking for [more] growers to put their hands up and take limited numbers, so we get a good idea of how these varieties will work."
Some growers frustrated by lack of access
Mr Dunmall said to join the program, growers must commit to planting at least 300 trees of each variety.
It is a requirement that has angered some farmers, who say it restricts smaller growers from accessing the new mangoes.
"The reason we've done that is several-fold," Mr Dunmall said.
"We want to make sure the growers who do sign up are serious about evaluating these new varieties, and will actually give the varieties the best chance to see how good they really are.
"So this is the first year of the rollout and we're initially looking at those sort of numbers, but in another year or two we may look at bringing those numbers down in some of those regions like Carnarvon (WA), where the size of orchards are smaller to those in Katherine or Darwin."
Mr Dunmall said naming rights to the three mangoes was still a process that needed working out.
He admitted the rollout of the varieties had been a long process, which had frustrated growers.
"Dealing with contract negotiations by nature can take a long time. I know it's been frustratingly long," he said.
"But it's done now, so we just have to look forward to getting these varieties out to as many regions as possible, so we can get a good understanding of how they handle different environments and soil types."
Mr Dunmall said if all went to plan, the varieties would be seen on supermarket shelves within two or three years.
PHOTO: New mango varieties picked from the DAFWA research station in Kununurra, WA. (Supplied: DAFWA)
New mangoes outperforming competition in Kununurra
The three new mango varieties have shown some impressive production values this year at the WA Department of Agriculture's research farm in Kununurra.
The hybrid mangoes have yielded extremely well in what has otherwise been a below-average mango season for the region.
"It's always a good testing scenario when you have a year like this where the commercial varieties haven't done as well, in comparison to these new varieties," department researcher Peter Johnson said.
"We're seeing these new varieties well and truly out-performing the existing R2E2s and Kensington Prides in the valley this year."
Mr Johnson said the varieties were bred to have strong flavours, good colouring and higher productivity (yields).
He said the NMBP 1243 in particular was exciting, because it was producing fruit three to five weeks before other mango varieties in the region.
"Having a mango like this has the potential to add a significant amount of value to the mango industry in Australia," he said.