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UC Riverside licenses leading South African company to market 'GEM' avocados
Date:5/13/2011

of 'Hass,' allowing for a later start of harvesting and subsequently a later marketing window. In California, the fruit will hang on the tree very well into August and early September. In cooler places, like coastal Santa Barbara, Calif., it can hang on the tree until October.

"The 'GEM' avocado variety's attractive look and high quality are what got Westfalia interested in the fruit," said Stefan Khne, the research and development manager for Westfalia. "This is a variety which, under South African conditions, matures a few weeks later than the 'Hass' variety. Westfalia is particularly encouraged by the positive outcome of independent taste panels conducted in the United Kingdom, where 'GEM' scored better than late season 'Hass' in terms of eating quality. 'GEM' trees also lend themselves to being planted in higher densities, and the compactness of the tree will allow for easier management of the trees. The 'GEM' variety is starting to distinguish itself not only as a superior high quality fruit for the customer but also an attractive cultivar for the grower to produce and manage."

UCR has developed other avocado varieties before 'GEM': 'Gwen,' 'Whitsell' and 'Esther' were released in the early 1980s; 'SirPrize' and 'Lamb Hass' in the mid-1990s; and 'Harvest' in the 2000s.

"Avocados are always a challenge since the selection rate for promising material is about 1-2 selections per 1000 seeds planted," said UCR's Mary Lu Arpaia, a cooperative extension subtropical horticulturalist, who leads the current program searching for new varieties. "The 'GEM' variety arose from a mass planting of seedlings planted in the late 1980s. This selection is a seedling of the 'Gwen' variety."

In South Africa, Westfalia plans to market 'GEM' towards the end of the traditional avocado harvesting season. The company will market 'GEM' almost exclusi
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Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala
iqbal@ucr.edu
951-827-6050
University of California - Riverside
Source:Eurekalert  

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UC Riverside licenses leading South African company to market 'GEM' avocados
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