Culdevco’s Licenced ARC-Bred Plum Cultivars Grow To 50% Of Exported Carton Figures As 2022/2023 Season Exceeds Expectations
A recent plum cultivar information day at Culdevco’s head office in Stellenbosch was well attended by growers, exporters and nurseries. The Agricultural Research Council (ARC) bred varieties such as Ruby Sun, African Delight®, Ruby Star, African Rose® and Flavour Star are currently South Africa’s top cultivars and they have grown from 32% of the export market in 2020/2021 to 50% in 2022/2023.
The plum cultivar range at Culdevco consists of 11 ARC varietals of various skin colours – black, yellow and red. Red-skinned are the most planted due to their popularity, while yellow and black are more niche. Europe is currently South Africa’s biggest market for our locally grown plums, followed by the Middle East and United Kingdom, however the United States is also opening up as a profitable market for exporters.
Ruby Sun, African Delight® and Ruby Star are top export varieties
The ARC-bred plum varieties have all performed exceptionally well internationally over recent years with Ruby Sun being Culdevco’s most popular plum. It’s a delicious mid season cultivar that peaks at AA/AAA and the fruit that has storage capability of six to seven weeks. In 2017, 211 hectares of Ruby Sun were planted in South Africa and this has now grown by over 41% to 511 hectares in 2022, yielding 55-60 ton per hectare.
African Delight® is the next most popular red-skinned variety. This juicy plum has excellent flavor and stores well, with a healthy 55-60 tons per hectare that grows better in warmer areas. In 2017 South African producers planted 349 hectares of African Delight® which has now grown to 459 hectares in 2022 – an increase of over 30%.
Ruby Star is a late-ripening red plum cultivar that adapts better to cooler areas when compared with African Delight®. It has excellent cold storage ability and also provides 55-60 tons per hectare. Ruby Star has been a local success story with matching international market demand.
Innovative new plum cultivars on the horizon
Exporters were excited to hear about the as-yet-unnamed but up-and-coming cultivar called PR 06-23. This plum is showing great promise with medium to low chilling requirements, excellent storage ability over longer time frames, combined with exceptional taste. This cultivar is in its advanced evaluation phase and it has been semi-commercially planted in areas in the Western Cape. This cultivar is available to South African producers.
There are two other interesting cultivars further back in development – PR 12-10 and PR 11-04. These plum varieties are also set to impress the market and Culdevco will keep stakeholders informed as to their progress.
New varieties are evaluated for their adaptability, yield, precociousness, fruit quality, and acceptability in the major local and export deciduous fruit markets, amongst other factors. Varieties are also vigorously tested and screened on a regular basis to ensure they meet quality standards. This extensive process from breeding, evaluating and propagating can take more than 15 years with costs running into the millions, which ensures that Culdevco makes the best possible recommendation of a profitable cultivar choice for the grower that will enable them to reap maximum benefits.
Culdevco’s role in South Africa’s export fruit industry
Culdevco is a commercialising and marketing agent of ARC-bred varieties with more than 162 profitable cultivars under its management, which include apple, pear, plum, peach, apricot, table grape and dried grapes/raisins. The ARC is also the owner of all the deciduous fruit cultivars marketed by Culdevco.
These unique and robust cultivars released by Culdevco over the last 16 years have made a significant impact on the South African deciduous fruit industry.
Speak to a Culdevco expert
As a South African farmer, producer, or technical adviser, speak to a Culdevco expert about their cultivars and utilising them to your advantage.