A unique new hybrid stonefruit that's a cross between a plum and an apricot is set to create a commercial buzz in the horticulture industry.
Primary Industries and Fisheries researchers developed the only known "blood flesh" plumcot variety in Australia, and possibly the world at the Applethorpe Research Station, west of Brisbane.
Primary Industries, Fisheries and Rural and Regional Queensland Minister, Tim Mulherin says with the right marketing the Rubycot could become a high value boutique fruit.
"Rubycot is a fruit in its own category and less influenced by the price or demand of plums and apricots. It has the potential to become a high value niche market crop that could be grown in many regions of Australia," Mr Mulherin said.
He said Primary Industries and Fisheries is applying for Australian Plant Breeder's Rights through the Australian Government's IP Australia.
"The name Rubycot reflects the flesh colour and part apricot mix. The fruit is completely different to any apricots and plums currently on the market because of its flesh and skin colour.
"Based on the Satsuma plum, our officers developed this new variety of fruit with deep blood red flesh on the inside, medium red skin and a light coating of fuzz on the outside."
"When in bloom, the trees are very attractive with their "weeping" branches and foliage, and long tendrils of densely packed flowers," he said.
Mr Mulherin said the fruit is small to medium size, averaging around 50mm with a round to oval shape.
"It is great tasting fruit with a sweet and balanced sugar/acid mix that gives it a spritzy flavour, with sugar levels as high 18 per cent, which is very sweet for early season fruit."
The Minister said Rubycot trees were planted as seedlings in 1997 and first fruited in 1999, though trees usually take three years to fruit.
"It was propagated for growers in 2002 and has been available for inspection since 2004.
"Currently there are between 200 and 300 Rubycot trees grown on half a hectare at Ballandean on the Granite Belt and another 50 trees growing at Applethorpe.
"The Rubycot is one of a number of varieties to come out the Department's successful stonefruit breeding program, following on from Earlisweet, Bellerosa and more recently the Queen Garnet plum.
"We're expecting growers and commercial partners to take advantage of the potential for this new variety of fruit," Mr Mulherin said.
Principal experimentalist Dougal Russell said the fruit's flavour had rated seven to eight on a scale of nine over the past five years of the breeding program.
"Seven is considered commercially viable," he said.
"In 2007 we tested the Rubycot with DPI&F's Innovative Food Technologies team at Hamilton, Brisbane.
"Tasters described the fruit as being 'tangy and tasty', while the appearance was noted as attractive, healthy and not glossy like a plum."
Mr Russell said Rubycot ripened on the Granite Belt, between 12-29 December, and would compete with other early season plums and apricots on the market.
"This timing is great for consumers, and with good pre Christmas prices this fruit could be quite profitable for growers," he said.
Mr Russell said limited quantities of this fruit would be available on the market this December.
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This article interested me greatly as in the 1980's when we established a small orchard on our property west of Denmark we planted a "plumcot" - This had light coloured flesh and is tasty but not very prolific. They evidently didn't achieve popularity as I don't ever remember seeing them in the shops.
The information was very informative and has piqued my interest. I live outside of San Diego California and grow several varities of fruit along with a grove a macadamia nut trees. When do you think the Rubycot tree would be available for commercial sale. I would like to experiment with a few of them in the microclimate where my grove is. It's very unique.