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Promisingly high pack-out of FLASH GALA ™ expected

A high pack-out percentage of FLASH GALA ™ apples is expected based on the first samples taken when picking began in the Ceres valley recently. Fruit from the Elgin, Grabouw, Villiersdorp and Vyeboom valleys also looks very good says Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing which manages the variety. 

With well over a million trees already planted, Bigbucks, the improved Corder Gala apple strain, is the most successful new variety in terms of orders placed in the history of the South African Plant Improvement Organisation (SAPO) since launch date.

Named after Buks Nel, Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing’s New Variety Expert, 2019’s Agriculturist of the Year and a fruit industry veteran, Plant Breeder’s Rights were awarded to Bigbucks’ owners, Pink Vein (Pty) Ltd. That company comprises Buks Nel, Derek Corder, the grower who discovered Corder Gala, and Anthony Rawbone-Viljoen on whose Oak Valley Estate the strain was found. 

FLASH GALA ™, the trademarked fruit of Bigbucks trees, joins other global topfruit brands such as Pink Lady®, the Cripps Pink apple that meets the high colour standard, and is poised to further disrupt the global fresh fruit industry. 

The sweet spot for FLASH GALA ™ is the high pack-out percentage. This means that more purchase-ready fruit from one tree can be picked at one time than many other commercially grown apple or pear varieties. 

Calla du Toit, Chairman of the Bigbucks Growers’ Association says of FLASH GALA ™, the fruit from the Bigbucks tree, that “we have finally found something that is way different. “FLASH GALA ™ is special and very different,” he says. 

“The fact that it is a beautiful full-red colour also raises challenges. We have to be sure when the right time to pick is,” he says, adding that unripe fruit will still be a full-red colour. “Ours is an inclusive concept – we are asking all growers and technical people to bring their thoughts to the table,” Du Toit says.

Buks Nel says: “In Bigbucks the colour is deceiving as it is red before it is mature and it is a big mistake to harvest too soon.”

“We do the iodine test,” says Nel, “I take an apple, cut it along the equator and put it into an iodine solution. If it is all black, there is no starch that has converted to sugar. The secret is to do starch tests all the time to asses picking maturity.” 

De Kock Hamman, Technical Manager at Ceres Fruit Growers, says that starch should be at around 35% starch break down if the trees are fourth leaf or younger so that the tree can be picked at one time. “As an apple is a climacteric fruit it produces ethylene and all the apples will be ripen over time.” Of the fruit on Dennekruin farm in Ceres, he says, “this fruit, now in its fourth leaf, is a magnificent colour. Bigbucks is especially suited to warmer areas such as the Warm Bokkeveld , in Ceres, where growers typically struggle with colour.”

Du Toit says: “For a Bigbucks apple to be a FLASH GALA ™ it needs to have 80% colour adding that there are more than 1000 hectares of Bigbucks trees planted and SAPO supplies more than a million buds each year.

SAPO projects that the 2021 volume of FLASH GALA ™ will be well over 12 000 bins.

Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing manages the sales of FLASH GALA ™. Currently being picked and packed, the first FLASH GALA ™ arrivals are expected to land in Asia and the Far East mid-April this year while it will be on South African supermarket shelves from March.

“For about a month there will be a splash of red FLASH GALA ™ in the marketplace and we hope consumers will be as excited about this perfect choice for a full-red apple as we are,” says Tru-Cape’s Marketing Director, Conrad Fick.

According to Fick, a promotional campaign will run with key retailers in Asia and UAE and use social-media platforms such as TikTok and We Chat and key influencers to encourage word-of-mouth buzz.

“Our FLASH GALA ™ volume will grow exponentially in the years to come as trees come into full fruition so in 2022 we plan for an even bigger splash.” Fick ends.

See www.bigbucksapples.com or Tru-Cape.com for ordering information.

FLASH GALA ™ field day with SAPO

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