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Test the potential of hot climate varieties on your orchard

Industry Best Practice

Key points

  • Breeding program for Hot Climate resilience, started in 2002 
  • Testing material available at no charge (restricted number of trees per selection) 
  • A range of variety access options 
  • Tutti® still available for EOI in Australia 

Australian apple and pear growers will have a range of options to access varieties from the Spanish/New Zealand Hot Climate Partnership (HCP) breeding program in a break with the ‘one variety, one trademark’ commercialisation approach. 

Depending on the degree of differentiation/global appeal and suitability to different regions of the apples and pears in the pipeline, a high colour variety, that is sunburn resistant and stores well could be available with no more strings than a simple tree royalty and release. 

Introducing the varieties from the 20-year-old breeding program at a field day at Montague’s Narre Warren test orchard in mid-March, Morgan Rogers, general manager of HCP commercialisation partner – and T&G Global subsidiary – VentureFruit®, said commercialisation may take the form of a partnership of growers who want to develop a region-specific variety. 

Alternatively, a variety that has shown global appeal, performs consistently well on orchard and with the consumer may be commercialised under a global exclusive model with a central company as the licensee. 

Morgan said VentureFruit’s multi-model approach had been developed to give access to varieties that might have useful traits, but not sufficient ‘wow factor’ to justify global commercialisation, while also providing a more sustainable income for plant breeders than pinning business success on finding only the next global exclusive release. 

The approach also recognises the reality that a variety best suited to renewing a commodity variety could not command the premium needed to cover commissions and other fees charged for club varieties. 

All pre-commercial varieties are available for testing and evaluation by Australian growers who can obtain test material under a testing agreement from Graham’s Factree in Victoria to see how they perform in their own orchard.  

All pre-commercial varieties are available for testing and evaluation by Australian growers. Photo: VentureFruit®.

Breeding focus 

The Hot Climate breeding program was set up in 2002 by New Zealand-based Plant & Food Research (PFR) and Spanish public research institute IRTA to breed apple and pear varieties suited to the hotter climate of Catalonia, where hot days and warm nights contributed to poor colour development, sunburn, fruit drop and poor storage outcomes. 

The program selects varieties for sunburn resistance, colouration in the hot temperatures, maintaining firmness and delivering a great consumer experience in terms of texture and flavour. As Catalonia has long, cold winters, low-chill tolerance has not been a primary program focus. 

VentureFruit’s Global Variety Development Manager for Apples, Gary Wellwood, reported that varieties from the program were performing well in Catalonia and ‘even better’ in temperate regions such as the Loire Valley in France and the United Kingdom. 

VentureFruit Business Development Manager, Kate James said consumer research was a key part of the selection process and varieties seen as commercial propositions were rigorously tested in global markets. 

The consumer is at the core of everything we do, we invest heavily in global consumer research to understand what consumers want, now and in the future. These invaluable insights form the foundation of our varietal strategy. 

“Until we put the fruit in front of the consumer, we can’t really tell will they buy it, will they continue to buy it? How much are they willing to pay for it? And we always test them against benchmarks, all unbranded,” she said. 

The program selects varieties for sunburn resistance, colouration in hot temperatures, maintaining firmness and delivering a great consumer experience.  Photo: VentureFruit®.


HOT84A1 is the first variety from the Hot Climate Partnership to be commercialised and was launched at Berlin Fruit Logistica in February 2023 under the trademark Tutti™. 

Harvested two weeks before Fuji, Tutti is a cross of parents Scilate (Envy™) and Scired (Pacific Queen™).  

The variety produces fruit that is visually appealing – large and round with high-coloured dark red skin. The texture is crisp, light, refreshing and juicy and the taste delivers sweet, complex floral, honey and tropical/melon flavours. ​ 

Tutti has been licensed for commercialisation in Spain and the United Kingdom but is still to find a commercialisation partner in Australia.  

Montague Head of Strategy and Innovation, Rowan Little, said Montague had brought in around 1516 varieties for testing, including pears, and while the test trees had performed well, they were still evaluating them and had no plans to bring Tutti to the market as yet. 

“In terms of texture and colour, they certainly surprised us how good they are this year. So, we think there’s some good plant material in there, the parentage and fact they are for growing in a hot climate is important. Now it’s really just the next stage of discovering what to do. 

“We are like everyone else in the industry, thinking how many new varieties can you take? What’s the appetite for market?” he said. “The yield and packout have to be exceptional, we can’t afford to fall in love with flavour. 

“We have to be far more conservative than we have been in the past. 

“There’s no commercial vehicle, we’re not coming with that plan; you’re not going to have to sign up to a trademark; you don’t have to sign up to plant the number of trees, you don’t even have to agree to pay any money to test. It’s – here are some varieties, do you see potential? 

“I would encourage growers to put some trees in the ground and assess whether any of the varieties might offer a better value alternative to what is presently being grown.” 

Rowan said the VentureFruit model approach was an opportunity to think more broadly about the future of the apple innovation model. 

“There’s no big money left to buy up pre-commercial varieties, we have to develop a different model,” he said. “Perhaps this is it.” 

HCP has 13 apple and 4 pear varieties at pre-commercialisation stage. 

Attendees at a field day to promote the program at Montague in mid-March were able to view test blocks of a number of varieties from the program and taste two. 

Kate said all the pre-commercial varieties were open for evaluation and testing by Australian growers on their own sites. 

For further information contact VentureFruit Business Development Manager Kate James on [email protected] 



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