Aus Jubilee pineapple

new Aussie born and breed pineapple

The first ever Aussie born and bred pineapple

New variety available to consumers

Consumers can now buy the super tasty, Queensland-bred Aus-Jubilee pineapple! More than 15 years in the making, this new variety is now being grown in commercial quantities along the Queensland coast.

The Aus Jubilee and two other new varieties (the Aus Carnival and a currently unnamed variety) were released to industry a few years ago. The Aus Jubilee was the first to be multiplied up to commercial quantities. This variety has a small fruit (around 1.2 to 1.5 kg) with a regular oval shape and yellow skin.

The flesh is yellow and slightly drier, firmer and crunchier than the parent 73-50 variety. The leaf has smooth margins and is a deep, solid green. The flavour is aromatic with a hint of coconut. This variety has twice as much vitamin C (ascorbic acid) as its other parent, the Smooth Cayenne.

Taste testers preferred this variety because of its sweetness and excellent eating quality. It is consistent in its fruit quality and does not appear prone to internal fruit disorders or pathogens. Its good resistance to translucency is a major advantage.

The Aus Carnival variety has fruit usually around 1.5 kg in size, and is oval to cylindrical in shape with a green to yellow skin. This variety is similar in taste and sweetness to the Aus Jubilee, though not quite as fragrant. The flesh is yellow with a small core, and its antioxidant capacity is greater than its Cayenne parent.

The storage characteristics of the Aus Carnival variety are still being tested. The main strengths of the Aus Carnival are its sweetness and good flavour, good yield and good ratooning capacity.

The Aus Jubilee has been released to growers and is now available to consumers. The Aus Carnival and the unnamed variety have been released to Favco Qld Ltd for further testing before they are released to the wider industry.

Industry situation

The Australian pineapple processing sector has been in steady decline for many years, mainly due to competition from cheaper imported product. In response, the industry has turned to the fresh market with increased production and improved quality.

The expansion of the fresh sector has relied on the adoption of better fresh market varieties. Until 2004, this sector was protected from competition by a quarantine ban on the importation of fresh product. The lifting of that ban has seen small quantities of fresh pineapples imported from the Philippines. It is difficult to predict future quantities of fresh imports or their impact on the Australian industry.

Despite an increase in the consumption of fresh pineapple, farm profitability has declined slightly as costs of production have increased. Major improvements in consistency of product quality, continuity of supply and efficiency of production are necessary to remain competitive with imported product and other consumer items. The development of new varieties has the potential to satisfy all these requirements and is essential for the continued growth of the fresh pineapple industry.

Two varieties, both developed in Hawaii, currently dominate the fresh market. Small supplies of new Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) varieties are also becoming available. While the new DAF varieties offer some advantages, they are not suitable for production at all times of the year in all growing districts.

A new breeding program uses DAF varieties and imported Hawaiian varieties as parents to produce high-yielding, high-quality varieties suitable for the peak summer season. DAF is working in partnership with Pinata Marketing Pty Ltd, the largest pineapple producer in Australia, to fast-track newly developed varieties into production.

Overcoming problems with breeding

It is difficult to quickly develop new pineapple cultivars, mainly because the domesticated pineapple has a high level of diversity within its genetic code. As a result, when two plants are crossed, there is a wide variation in the characteristics displayed in the next generation.

DAF pineapple researcher Garth Sanewski and his team at Maroochy Research Station are using a selection of elite imported varieties and a mild level of inbreeding to fast-track the breeding program. Developing parental material with a higher frequency of desirable genes for important agronomic and fruit quality traits is the key to successful plant breeding programs for the Queensland pineapple industry.

Managing phytophthora

The new imported varieties grown for the fresh fruit market are more susceptible to phytophthora diseases. Potassium phosphonate has been registered to control Phytophthora nicotianae and P. cinnamomi in pineapples since the mid-1980s.

In the 2008 and 2009 seasons, growers suffered large losses in both plant and ratoon crops due to a combination of the new susceptible varieties and wet growing seasons. For these new varieties to grow successfully in all conditions, the industry needs to develop better control methods for phytophthora root and heart rot.

DAF plant pathologist Jay Anderson is conducting trials to determine the most effective timing of chemical application that will maximise root concentration and thereby minimise phytophthora infection. The study will also develop a 'concentration profile' that will show the decline in root concentration of the chemical over time.

Breeding ornamental pineapples

Most people are familiar with the pineapple used for processing and fresh consumption. Other lesser known pineapple varieties have several qualities that appeal to the cut flower and garden plants market in Australia and overseas - not surprising when you consider that the pineapple is a member of the bromeliad family.

The cut flower market seeks small quantities of pineapple foliage and decorative fruit, while the garden market seeks small potted plants.

Until recently, there have been few active breeding programs worldwide to develop ornamental characteristics in pineapple, so the choice of cultivars available to the market has been very limited. Since 1995, a small program has operated in Australia, and several selections have been developed for the garden and/or cut flower markets.

Characteristics include a pink or red syncarp, dark red-brown foliage and a dwarf, clumping growth habit. While a surprising display of ornamental diversity exists within the pineapple genus (Ananas), it is not as diverse as other bromeliads. Opportunities exist to breed characteristics such as additional foliage colours, interesting plant shape and syncarp colours from other bromeliads into ornamental pineapple cultivars.