Bigbucks expected as new Gala strain delivers better than promised packout and strong market support.
Bigbucks, the improved Gala-variety apple strain discovered by Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing’s New Variety Expert PJ (Buks) Nel, has delivered an astounding 93% pack-out following its first 60-bin harvest.
“We hoped for a 90% pack-out,” explains Nel which is already a 30% improvement on Gala strains so to have delivered a 93% pack-out – the percentage of saleable fruit from a single picking – is very impressive.”
Tru-Cape’s managing director Roelf Pienaar says that like Royal Beaut, discovered by Robert Zulch on Wakkerstroom in the Witzenberg Valley in Ceres, Corder Gala by Derek Corder on Beaulieu in Grabouw and now Bigbucks by PJ (Buks) Nel, Tru-Cape continues to lead in the development of better strains and best growing practices. “We are incredibly proud of Buks. This discovery is the just reward of a lifetime of passion and commitment to the fruit industry and frequent orchard walks – something of a rarity nowadays,” he says.
According to Pienaar, the first Bigbucks the company exported into The Far & Middle East have arrived as expected and the initial feedback is overwhelmingly positive. Our customers are very excited about the potential of this variety. Good news all around”, Pienaar says.
Pienaar says that Tru-Cape is one of the few South African fruit exporters that invests in Research and Development. To find someone such as Buks Nel who has the experience and skill and who focuses entirely on finding and improving varieties is not easy.
Nel explains: “Deep in its soul a Gala is an unstable varietal with between 5% and 50% of trees planted not being true to type. Bigbucks is the exception so growers know when they plant a Bigbucks tree they will always get Bigbucks fruit. Another, albeit cosmetic improvement, is the deep full wine red that the fruit achieves from early in its life while most Gala types are striped. While redness is usually an indication of ripeness, with Bigbucks the fruit is full red from the start. Normally a Gala tree needs to be picked on three different occasions to find fruit of the right colour spec, now, if need be, trees can be picked once.
Bigbucks, like Pink Lady and other registered varieties, has registered Plant Breeder’s Rights which are held by a company, Pink Vein, in which Nel and growers Derek Corder and Anthony Rawbone-Viljoen own shares. It takes its name from the characteristic pink vein that runs down the centre of the leaf like a life-giving artery.
“In 2016 Tru-Cape growers planted 95 000 trees on 50 hectares and this winter we’ll plant 171 000 trees on 90 hectares. By next year we expect to have planted more than half a million trees on 300 hectares. Everyone is looking for a stable Gala,” Nel continues, “we have not seen a single reversion thus far.”
According to Tru-Cape grower and Procurement Manager Calla du Toit, who is also chair of the Bigbucks Growers Association, Bigbucks trees planted in Ceres show the same potential as those planted in Grabouw so this varietal is set to be the most significant find of the decade. “This represents a 30% improvement over most.”
Nel says that Bigbucks will be picked and stored in the same way as other Gala types. “There is a myth that redder fruit has less flavour but this is an old wives’ tale. Bigbucks is beautiful to look at and delicious to eat.” he ends.