Luna UCR: ‘Already Adapted to a High-Density Planting Setting’

Brian GermanAvocado, Fruits & Vegetables, Industry

The new Luna UCR avocado variety developed at UC Riverside offers valuable attributes for growers. It is a “B” flower type so it can serve as a pollinizer for other “A” flower varieties such as Hass. The fruit that is produced is similar to Hass, starting as an emerald green color and turning glossy black late in the harvest season. UCR Professor of Extension in Subtropical Horticulture Mary Lu Arpaia said the tree’s overall structure is also valuable for growers.

Luna UCR
COURTESY: University of California

“The nice thing about the Luna UCR is that it is a very upright, slender tree. So, it is already adapted to a high-density planting setting,” Arpaia explained. “It grows very well in Southern California, and I think it is a great variety on its own. It has good fruit quality, good eating quality, and good post-harvest shelf life. So, it should be something that can slip into the California avocado growing scene relatively easy.”

Interest has been growing in recent years in establishing more trees per acre. While Hass is a popular variety, it is not well suited to high-density planting. The Lamb-Hass and GEM varieties are more compact trees and lend themselves to planting more trees per acre. Luna UCR offers growers an option to have a pollinizer variety that can also be planted in higher-density systems.

The new avocado scion cultivar, officially classified as BL516, was the result of many years of research. Arpaia said they began looking at the variety more closely in the early 2000’s, with support from the California Avocado Commission. In 2020, Eurosemillas, S.A. took over sponsorship of the UCR avocado breeding programs and is now the licensee of Luna UCR.

“Eurosemillas has, to my knowledge, at least two nurseries signed up. One is Brokaw Nursery in Saticoy. The other one is Subtropica Nursery based out of Fallbrook. But I’m sure they will sign up other nurseries in the coming months now that it’s officially released,” said Arpaia. “The variety is not a club variety, so it is available to any grower in California that wants to grow it.”

Brian German
Ag News Director / AgNet West