Named the Rocio, the large proprietary variety is grown in California during the domestic season, but Salinas, Calif.-based Naturipe now is planting the berry in Argentina, as well. Growers in Chile and, eventually, Mexico also will be producing the Rocio, said Brian Bocock, Naturipe’s vice president of product management.
“The flavor profile is generally superior to other varieties producing during the same window,” he said.
In addition, the size is typically large, and the berry is very firm, which gives it added shelf life once it gets to the supermarket, Bocock said. Yields and productivity also are impressive in most growing areas, though they can depend on individual growers’ horticultural practices.
When you have appearance, flavor and shelf life, Bocock said, “you have a winner.”
That combination of traits can enhance profitability for growers and provide consumers with a favorable eating experience, he said.
Rocio blueberries from Argentina will start showing up in the marketplace in the fall of 2015, he said, and meaningful volume should be available in 2016.
“It’s a difference maker,” Bocock said. “It’s a very much improved variety for the consumer.”
The Rocio has been shipping out of California for two years, he said, and Naturipe will continue to increase production there each year for the next four or five seasons.
It’s one of seven proprietary varieties Naturipe has started to propagate in Florida, Georgia and Michigan. Five are southern highbush varieties and two are northern highbush varieties.
“Certain varieties work in certain areas,” Bocock said, with chill hours a deciding factor as to what grows where.
Southern highbush varieties, grown in the southeastern U.S., also grow well in Argentina.
Whether propagating raspberries, blackberries, blueberries or strawberries, Naturipe’s proprietary breeding program constantly is in search of new, better varieties, Bocock said. But it’s the consumer who has the final say.
“The consumer helps separate the grower from the rest of the pack,” he said.09/12/2014 The Packer