National Apricot Breeding Program

The South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) leads the National Apricot Breeding program conducting research, variety development and variety evaluation.

Seventeen new apricot varieties have been released for promotion to both the Australian fresh market and dried apricot industries. These will provide better flavoured apricots to consumers and a competitive advantage to growers.

SARDI’s breakthroughs in new superior apricot seedlings

In 2007 the South Australian Research & Development Institute (SARDI) National Apricot Breeding Program made the final crosses that produced 4500 new apricot seedlings. A joint dried and fresh apricot industry project was conducted to finalise selections from this resource and complete their evaluation toward commercialisation. Superior new apricot varieties arising from these evaluations are now being made available commercially to fresh and dried Australian apricot growers for use in export and domestic markets.

The SARDI apricot program history and partnerships

The SARDI apricot program is a 35 year old traditional apricot breeding program which made in excess of 37,000 crosses while actively breeding. This was made possible by long term support from Australian Dried Tree Fruit Inc (ADTF) and its predecessors.

In 2012, SARDI and the ADTF invited Summerfruit SA (formerly the South Australian Fresh Fruit Growers Association) to invest in the development of the final cohort of SARDI apricot varieties. This partnership was critical in ensuring that the benefits of superior new varieties would be realised, and not lost to the Australian Industries.

Improvements to dried apricot varieties

The dried apricot industry needed to develop new improved apricots varieties to fundamentally improve the cost structures of production, to sustain and grow the industry. These varieties had to maintain a traditional full colour cut half style while improving overall cropping reliability, fruit quality and yield both on tree and post processing though improved dry ratios. New varieties also needed to be robust enough to be compatible with new mechanised labour saving production systems.

Fresh apricot industry development

The fresh market apricot industry in Australia is currently dependent upon imported Californian and European varieties which, while large, firm and attractive, are largely flavour compromised (acidic or lacking in flavour). This reduced eating quality has resulted in declining market share for apricots and widespread consumer dissatisfaction.

A focus on increased fruit sugars in breeding and consumer eating experience via sensory panels during evaluation has clearly identified several lines that deliver greatly improved consumer eating quality and are well adapted to Australian growing conditions.

The best of the lines developed, many of which are capable of performing within both industries, are now available commercially. The new varieties are supported by grower information sheets to enable growers to make informed decisions on their use and will please consumers by delivering a vastly improved consumer focused product on retail shelves.

How to order apricot trees

Trees can be ordered through the licenced production nurseries Balhannah Nursery (enquiries@balhannahnurseries.com.au; 08 8389 4557) and Mossmont Nursery (mossmont@bigpond.com; 02 6963 4562), further nursery licences are available.

A signed Non-propagation agreement is required prior to tree delivery.

SARDI apricot program contact

Darren Graetz
Phone: 0401 122 141
Email: darren.graetz@sa.gov.au

Media release and project report

Information sheets for growers: new apricot varieties

Page Last Reviewed: 21 Sep 2018
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