American Company, Fall Creek Nursery, has decided to get closer to the African industry with an initial focus on South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Eswatini (Swaziland).
Fall Creek’s blueberry varieties are not unknown in South Africa. Fall Creek Nursery participated in the introduction of blueberries to the country and worked on the phytosanitary protocols for the importation of new varieties as well as the cultivation techniques to make the crop commercially viable.
Their African offering will mostly be zero and low cold unit requirements varieties, developed at their Mexican and Spanish breeding stations. “Zero cold unit blueberries would lend itself to the climate of the Northern Cape and Namibia, which have similar environments to Spain and Baja California, and lower latitude high elevation regions of the Far North of South Africa which is similar to Central Mexico,” says Burgert van Dyk, who was appointed regional director in May this year after almost 26 years at the SAPO Trust, the South African Plant Improvement Organisation.
“There’s quite a bit of interest in our blueberry varieties from South African farmers for primarily two reasons. The first is to ensure a distribution of risk in a farming enterprise, to offset the cyclical nature of returns on some commodities. Berries increasingly present itself as a lucrative opportunity, its returns look good and it’s a growing commodity, worldwide. The second reason that prompts farmers to look at blueberries is to optimally use their labour force and facilities during the off-season.”
Furthermore, he points out that low cold requirement blueberries are early, which suits South African growers very well from a marketing point of view.
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