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A New way of Thinking about Cultivar Evaluation

Provar’s in-house database and software development is the next step towards changing the way information from fruit tastings is reported and made available for viewing to producers and other decision makers via an online platform. We are currently developing an easy to use app, to be used by everyone attending industry fruit tastings, with the vision to organise and standardise the scoring of specified characteristics. The app eases the process of capturing data, handles scheduling and invitations to IP owners and breeders and presents automated reporting and real time notifications to participants, IP owners, breeders and licensees.

In industry, formal cultivar evaluation is supported by various in-season, open and closed (invitation only) “Fruit Tastings”, that can be attended by South African Fruit producers and interested parties. These tastings remain one of the best possible platforms for various Breeders, IP managers and License holders to showcase their latest varieties and selections. A fruit tasting is all about presenting the best possible product at a specified harvest time, normally on a weekly basis. It is intended to give the producer a broad overview of what’s new, and to add the perspective of “what is out there” for planting. During these tastings, the producer can add value to his or her basket of knowledge if the correct tools are applied to make informed decisions. If information gathered during these tastings is applied without proper insight and advice, it may add to the new cultivar conundrum.

The table below gives some perspective of what has been showcased during the past two seasons at various stone fruit tastings. Provar attended 28 stone fruit tastings during the 2016 / 2017 season, presenting 249 different stone fruit cultivars and selections, and Provar tested over 500 cultivars and selections during the past two seasons. It becomes an impossible task for a producer to attend these many tastings, and to thus truly and accurately identify the best cultivar to fit his or her production unit.

Season # Tastings # Varieties # Apricots # Nectarines # Peaches # Plums # Cherries # Prunes
2015/16 17 255 16 102 102 34 1 0
2016/17 28 249 19 95 75 58 0 2

Provar’s value adding proposition to the SA Fruit Industry

Provar’s focus is independent evaluation of all fruit cultivars and rootstocks that become available for possible planting by SA producers, and we pride ourselves on knowing exactly what is out there by attending every possible open tasting session. We have a score sheet for each of the above mentioned cultivars and selections, and make sure that we see the “bigger picture”.

Those unable to attend tastings throughout the season could simply log on to Provar’s website, and see the general impression of the cultivars presented at the different tastings. Those who did attend the tasting could also compare their personal impression to the averages generated by all attendees. At the end of the season, a full fruit tasting database will be available on a Provar web-based platform, including all cultivars tasted at different stages of the season with overall scores for different characteristics.

An opportunity for IP owners, Licensees and Breeders

All breeders, IP Owners and Licensees have good and bad cultivars. This tool will enable them to identify the best cultivars and selections based on visual and sensory fruit characteristics simulating a consumer panel. Data generated will be based on a mean score calculated from all attendees representing evaluators, producers, supermarket managers and interested people. This database will enable a filtering process to identify the best cultivars for each IP owner and breeder available out there.

Next step evaluation

It is important to remember that planting decisions cannot be made based on the results of fruit tastings alone. Fruit tastings are based on a few best selected fruit picked from trees at optimal harvest stage. It is critical that next step evaluation should follow the above filtering process. When the top score cultivars have been identified, a full independent and scientific tree and fruit evaluation should follow in association with the IP owner in different production areas for consecutive years, to be able to avoid any planting mistakes.

Win-win for all

Fruit tastings can become the first step in industry, filtering new cultivars and adding to the compilation of a collective database for interested parties and to the benefit of the producer and the future of the SA fruit industry. This tool should be easily accessible to the producer, and inform them of the latest progress in cultivar development for industry

Attending fruit tastings is just one of the tools Provar uses to stay ahead of the game. We also apply in depth scientific evaluation principles to all our clients’ cultivars and selections in a four-step screening evaluation process and in full commercial trials.

For more information contact Human Steenkamp on 072 738 9295, or Send us a Message


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