The superior clone in the Gala family was originally discovered by apple variety expert PJ (Bucks) Nel, two years ago – now Bigbucks looks on course to deliver high returns as the very first harvest results in extremely large volumes of saleable fruit.
“We hoped for a 90% pack-out,” says Nel. “This is already a 30% improvement on Gala strains, so to have delivered a 93% pack-out is very impressive.”
He found Bigbucks, which is a mutation of Corder Gala, in an orchard on the Oak Valley Estate and tipped it for great success because of its high colour and stability. At the time it was described as the “find of the decade” because of its pack-out potential.
Bigbucks trees planted in Ceres show the same potential as those planted in Grabouw, further evidence this varietal is set to be the a significant discovery.
Strong market support
The first shipments of Bigbucks have arrived in the Far and Middle East and have been met with extremely positive feedback, according to Tru-Cape’s managing director Roelf Pienaar.
“Our customers are very excited about the potential of this variety. Good news all around”, he says.
“We are incredibly proud of Buks. This discovery is the just reward of a lifetime of passion and commitment to the fruit industry and frequent orchard walks –– something of a rarity nowadays.”
Pienaar adds that Tru-Cape is one of the few South African fruit exporters that invests in R&D and having someone such as Buks Nel with extensive experience and skills to focuses entirely on finding and improving varieties, is not an easy task.
Last year Tru-Cape growers planted 95,000 trees on 50 hectares and this winter a further 171,000 trees are planned on 90 hectares, says Nel.
“By next year we expect to have planted more than half a million trees on 300 hectares. Everyone is looking for a stable Gala. We have not seen a single reversion thus far.
“Deep in its soul a Gala is an unstable varietal with between 5% and 50% of trees planted not being true to type. Bigbucks is the exception so growers know when they plant a Bigbucks tree they will always get Bigbucks fruit.
“Another, albeit cosmetic improvement, is the deep full wine red that the fruit achieves from early in its life while most Gala types are striped. While redness is usually an indication of ripeness, with Bigbucks the fruit is full red from the start.”
He adds how normally a Gala tree needs to be picked on three different occasions to find fruit of the right colour spec.