What major pineapple varieties are available in Australia?
Smooth Cayenne, 73-50, MD-2 and Queen.
What characteristics differentiate the major varieties?
Smooth Cayenne is the predominant fresh market variety due to its abundant supply. However, it has low demand and will probably be phased out of the winter fresh market as other better quality varieties become available.
The 73-50 is also sold as Bethonga Gold and Golden Circle Gold. It is slightly sweeter than Smooth Cayenne with a moderately lower acidity, highly aromatic flavour, more yellow flesh and substantially higher vitamin C level. Peak flavour is usually attained in fruit harvested from September to December but translucency can be a problem between August and September. While flavour is usually good in summer in South East Queensland, it can be a little bland (low in sugars and acidity) if not grown well. In winter in south east Queensland it is good but can be slightly too acid in cold locations.
73-50 is slightly smaller than Smooth Cayenne but fruit size usually meets market requirements. 73-50 has moderate resistance to blackheart but is moderately susceptible to translucency and natural flower initiation. It appears moderately susceptible to skin russeting (probably caused by mites attacking the developing fruitlet).
MD-2 is slightly sweeter than Smooth Cayenne but with a similar acidity. The flesh is more yellow than Smooth Cayenne and slightly more fibrous but with a very high vitamin C content. It is moderately susceptible to translucency. MD-2 tastes good in summer (September to April) in south east Queensland but is generally too acidic for winter production here. At Mareeba in north Queensland, it is sweet enough all year. MD-2 has good resistance to blackheart, and better resistance than 73-50. However, it is highly susceptible to natural flower initiation. MD-2 appears more susceptible to Phytophthora than Smooth Cayenne.
Queen varieties (Alexander, McGregor, Ripley Queen) have small fruit size and the flesh has a crunchy, fibrous texture with high TSS and moderate acidity. Queen varieties are very prone to natural flower initiation, blackheart and fruitlet core rot.
What other minor varieties are available?
Several other varieties are marketed in very small quantities. These varieties will either remain insignificant or go completely out of production as other varieties become available. They include 24-80, 53-116 and 58-1184.
What new varieties are being developed?
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-Carnival and the unnamed variety have been released to Favco Qld Ltd for further testing before they are released to the wider industry.
The variety 10-2594 is currently being multiplied for more comprehensive grower and market testing. It is an exceptionally sweet, small to medium-sized fruit with an aromatic flavour similar to 73-50. It appears to have reasonably good resistance to blackheart, translucency and natural flower initiation. It also appears to tolerate storage well. It has a moderate acidity, which is good in summer but may be too high for winter production in some sites in south east Queensland.
A range of additional varieties of interest are undergoing multiplication at a less intensive level for regional grower tests.