Maroon mango from South Africa could add extra month to Australia's mango season
Updated yesterday at 7:20pm
PHOTO: The first crop of princess mangoes in Australia is about to be harvested on the Sunshine Coast. (ABC News: Jonathan Hair)
A Queensland farmer is growing a new breed of mango he hopes could extend Australia's mango season by an extra month, meaning consumers would have access to the fruit for nine months of the year.
But there is something else that makes this mango unique — the colour of its skin, which is a deep shade of maroon.
"Its main attribute is it is bright maroon. It's a very unique colour," grower Gavin Scurr, from Wamuran, north of Brisbane, said.
"They are a similar size and shape to Kensington Prides, however externally they are purple rather than yellow."
The flesh of the mango is still the usual yellow and orange colour.
A mango flavour 'the rest of the world enjoys'
It is known more formally as the princess mango, and was bred in South Africa using mango varieties from Central America.
"The flavour is more like an American mango, so it has a bit more of 'turpy' type taste," Mr Scurr said.
00:00 AUDIO: Marty McCarthy reports on a Queensland farmer who is growing the maroon 'princess' mango (ABC News)
"The ones I have tried have a lot of flavour, but it is different to what we are used to in Australia.
"It's just a more mango flavour that the rest of the world enjoys.
"It's actually got a fibreless flesh, so it's very smooth, so similar to a nectarine or a peach on the inside, so very easy on the palate."
However, do not expect the princess mango to be replacing the Kensington Pride, Australia's most popular mango variety, anytime soon.
PHOTO: Gavin Scurr owns the commercial rights to the princess mango in Australia. (ABC News: Jonathan Hair)
"By being visually different, people identify they're not Kensington Pride and they certainly taste nothing like Kensington Prides," Mr Scurr said.
"But I don't think they will take the place of KPs. However, later in the season when there are no KPs, this will be a viable alternative."
Mr Scurr's company, Piñata Farms, owns the commercial rights to the princess mango in Australia, and has been growing it for three years.
Piñata Farms will give this year's crop to its existing customers to trial, but the future of the new mango in Australia comes down to the all-important taste test.
"Ultimately it comes down to taste. If people like them we will continue to grow them," Mr Scurr said.
"But if the flavour doesn't excite Australian consumers then it probably doesn't have a big future.
"If it proves a viable proposition to commercialise it, we will be asking other growers if they're interested in growing it."
Mangoes for nine months of the year
Australia's mango season begins around August and September in the Northern Territory and usually wraps up in southern states around March or April, where late season varieties are grown.
However, Mr Scurr said the princess mango could help to extend the season by an extra month.
"Potentially this variety could go through to April, or May further south," he said.
"Ten years ago most of the season was finished by Christmas, whereas now we push well into February, through extension of new growing regions and varieties.
"So if we can get mangoes for nine months of the year for Aussie consumers, I think that's fantastic."
PHOTO: The princess mango was bred in South Africa, using varieties from Central America. (ABC News: Jonathan Hair)
Southern states could grow maroon mango
The Princess mango could also mean southern states like South Australia get the chance to grow the popular summer fruit.
South Africa sits between the 34th parallel south and the Tropic of Capricorn, as does New South Wales and parts of Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia.
The princess mango was bred for those conditions, meaning it could also be adapted to suit southern Australian climates.
"South Africa is well south of the tropic of Capricorn, like we are here in south Queensland, so if it grows well there then it potentially will here," Mr Scurr said.
"In frost-free areas in Victoria and South Australia, it might have a place there too.
"However, as you push further south it is the winter that knocks mangoes around. They don't like it, and anything below 15 degrees mangos start stressing."
First posted yesterday at 3:17pm