New Avocado Variety Gives Growers Additional Production Options

Brian GermanAvocado, Fruits & Vegetables, Industry

An avocado variety developed at the University of California, Riverside (UCR) gives producers new opportunities. The ‘BL516’ avocado scion cultivar known by its commercial name of Luna UCR, took decades to bring to market. UCR Professor of Extension in Subtropical Horticulture Mary Lu Arpaia said the cultivar fits a variety of grower needs.

avocado variety
COURTESY: University of California

“So, everybody that’s growing Hass, most of our acreage in California is Hass, or if you’re growing Gem, they’re an ‘A’ flower type. You need to plant a ‘B’ flower type to facilitate fruit set,” Arpaia explained. “The Luna UCR is a ‘B’ flower type.”

The seed for the original tree was planted back in the mid-1980s, under the direction of Dr. Bob Bergh who was leading the UCR avocado breeding program. The selection was made in the mid-1990’s, around the time that Arpaia took over the breeding program. Arpaia said the initial research on Luna UCR was supported by funding from the California Avocado Commission. “In the last three years, the program has been supported by Eurosemillas which is a company based out of Cordoba, Spain. So, they have made it possible for us to finally release the variety,” said Arpaia.

The Luna UCR variety produces fruit that matures similar to Hass in appearance, albeit slightly later. Fruit will be green in color and then late in the harvest season, it will turn to a glossy black color. Arpaia said the fruit from Luna UCR could be classified as Hass-like but provides the additional benefit of being a pollinizer. Luna UCR is the second new avocado variety released by the breeding program in the last 20 years. Looking ahead, the breeding program will continue working to refine Luna UCR as well as researching other new potential options for growers.

“We have some other varieties that we’re working on that we’re very excited about. They’re going to be more niche market varieties,” Arpaia noted. “We’re actively looking for something that can grow and be highly productive in the San Joaquin Valley.”

Brian German
Ag News Director / AgNet West