A tropical fruit farm in Glass House Mountains has produced a unique variety of cream apple that may be commercially available within a few years.
Robert and Karen Martin of Yanalla Farms produce lychees, dragon fruit, and custard apples in their Sunshine Coast backcountry orchard, but it’s their rare PinksBlush custard apple they’re on. focus in the future.
Now, the Martins have received a grant of $ 4,750 from the Queensland Government’s Small Craft Grower Grants program to help them take their business to the next level.
Ms Martin said they currently own 50 cream apple trees on their property, but after obtaining plant breeders’ rights in 2018, they were looking to produce the variety commercially and would seek to release it to other growers.
“We have about 3000 plants that we just grafted … we will start planting them in January, February, and then within two to three years we will start harvesting a cash crop from there,” he said. she declared. noted.
“We’ve had a few setbacks. We’ve had three hailstorms in the last 13 months and it kind of damaged some of our custard apples that we had in the ground, but we just need to bounce back and we can start. to do is now that we have succeeded in obtaining this grant. ”
The 22-hectare farm was last hit by hail on Sunday, destroying their dragon fruit crop and ripping bird nets on their lychee orchard to severely damage the young fruit.
Ms Martin said the creamy apple variety PinksBlush evolved naturally on the farm, with her stepdad Bob Martin finding creamy apples fruiting out of season on a single branch of one of their pink mammoths.cream apple trees about 20 years old.
“My husband finally convinced him to graft the tree and we now have around 50 trees on the property which are around 10 to 15 years old,” she said.
“Every year we get a small harvest.
“We know the strain works, we know it’s not a one-off … now we’re in the process of bringing it to market.”
Where the regular apple custard season runs from February to September, the PinksBlush harvest runs from September to December, a peak time for tropical fruits.
The Martins have been selling PinksBlush custard apples in Melbourne markets for the past three or four years, selling seconds locally.
They hope to be able to expand their sales to Brisbane, Sydney and Perth, eventually tapping into Asian markets like Taiwan, Thailand and Singapore.
“The fruit we sold this year paid us the most money and of course because there is nothing else on the market our agent keeps ringing the bell saying ‘give me more , give me more ‘but we can’t because there are only a small number of trees,’ said Ms Martin.
“As soon as our trees grow, we will push them towards consumers. “
The Martins also have 3,000 dragon fruit plants and around 500 lychees.
In the future, the Martins hope to move away from dragon fruit and focus more on their lychee and cream apple crops.
“We don’t think we’re taking a risk with the number of [PinksBlush custard apple] trees that we have because we’ve seen how it worked in the past, the good and the bad seasons and the feedback we get from people is that they want more, ”Ms. Martin said.
The PinksBlush difference
The name PinksBlush pays homage to its parent tree, the Pinks Mammoth, while also recognizing its pinkish-orange hues.
“I think what consumers like is the color, it’s definitely appealing to them,” Ms. Martin said.
“They like the redness of color on the skin and it happens naturally, depending on how much sun the fruit gets. If there is a lot of sun, there will be sun on one side of the fruit and on the other side of the fruit, fruits that do not receive the sun will always be green in color.
“Each fruit has a different color between a pink blush and an orange blush.”
When it comes to taste, the family has found the fruit to stack up.
“It tastes pretty creamy,” Ms. Martin said.
“I made a comparison with another variety which is currently grown by commercial growers and it is not as watery … it still contains seeds but there seems to be less seed in our variety.”
Ms Martin said their variety has a number of other benefits for growers.
“Because our fruits grow during the winter period, we don’t have fruit bugs because it is too cold for them where other varieties do and the fruits do not split on the trees,” Ms. Martin said. .
The trees also have sturdy stems, which makes the plant less sensitive to winds.
The variety is also notable for its staggered rate of ripening, which means that a single tree will have fruit at different stages of development.
“Farmers are in no rush to pick all of their fruits at once, so you can have more than one throughout the season,” Ms. Martin said.