Exeter organization researches new avocado variety

UC Lindcove signage located on the south east corner of Carson Ave. and Road 228.(Kenny Goodman)

UC Lindcove Research and Extension Center in Exeter takes part in the avocado breeding program that researches the new variety avocado variety ‘Luna UCR’

TULARE COUNTY – Avocado growers have the chance for some higher crop yield now that a new variety can increase the amount of avocados they can grow per acre; and the UC Lindcove Research and Extension Center in Exeter participated in the trials that led to the variety’s promise.

The seeds for Luna UCR avocado variety were first planted at the Bob Lamb Ranch in Camarillo before they were transplanted at four research facilities, including the UC Lindcove REC, for advanced trials. According to the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR), trees of the new Luna UCR variety are about half the size of other avocado varieties, but still manage to produce the same yield of other avocado plant varieties.

“Hopefully, it will receive similar returns to the ‘Hass’ once it is an established variety,” Mary Lu Arpaia, subtropical horticulture specialist at the UC ANR based in Riverside, said in a UC ANR report.

With smaller trees planted per acreage, growers have the chance to increase their yield since the trees take up less space while growing the same amount of fruit per tree. Additionally, with smaller trees on their lots, growers will also have an easier and safer experience when it is time to harvest the produce.

In addition to the Exeter UC Lindcove REC being one of four facilities that conducted trials of the Luna UCR, other facilities included: UC South Coast Research and Extension Center (REC) in Orange County; a privately owned farm in San Diego County; and another one in Ventura County.

The location in Ventura did face a setback and lost its avocado trees in the 2017 Thomas Fire, according to UC ANR. The farm in San Diego also terminated their trial when they changed management – leaving the RECs to finish the trials along with the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Fresno County, another UC ANR facility.

“South Coast REC has a long history of supporting research and extension activities of high-value crops important to California, including avocados,” Darren Haver, director of the South Coast REC said. “Many of the REC staff have worked with the avocado-breeding program researchers for more than two decades and continue to work closely with them to ensure the success of new avocado varieties, including ‘Luna UCR’.”

As reported by UC ANR, Arpaia said the Fresno County facility made it possible for her team to conduct noteworthy research on the crop’s critical post harvest and sensory research. Not only that, but it also helped with consumer testing of the avocados, which included up to six-week trials of fruit ratings for storage life and taste.

“UC ANR has played an important role in our ability to not only identify ‘Luna UCR,’ but in preparing it for the world market, too,” Arpaia said in the UC ANR report.

Once the trees of the Luna UCR variety are planted, the trees are anticipated to come into “full” production in approximately five years, according to UC ANR.

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