There’s a new apple on the scene. Going by the name of Bigbucks, it definitely sounds like it means business and if you’re a “fan” of the fruit – and are there really any apple haters out there? – it’s all very exciting.
Buks Nel, Tru-Cape’s varietal expert, made the find in an orchard on Oak Valley Estate on January 18, 2011.
The apple, a mutation of Corder Gala, also a strain discovered by a Tru-Cape grower, is set to be successful because of its high colour and stability – two things that plague the Gala-type apple. Tru-Cape’s managing director Roelf Pienaar says that like Royal Beaut, discovered by Robert Zulch on
Wakkerstroom in the Witzenberg Valley in Ceres, Corder Gala by Derek Corder on Beaulieu in Grabouw and now Bigbucks by PJ “Buks” Nel, Tru-Cape continues to lead development of better strains and best growing practices. “We are incredibly proud of Buks as this discovery is the just reward of a lifetime of passion and commitment to the fruit industry and frequent orchard walks – something of a rarity nowadays,” he says.
Nel explains: “Deep in its soul a Gala is an unstable varietal with between 5% and 50% of trees planted not being true to type. Bigbucks is the exception so growers know when they plant a Bigbucks tree they will always get Bigbucks fruit. Another, albeit cosmetic improvement, is the deep, full, wine red that the fruit achieves from early in its life, while most Gala types are striped. While redness is usually an indication of ripeness, with Bigbucks the fruit is full red from the start, which also means a higher percentage pack-out (the number of fruit on the tree that meets the colour and size specification). Normally a Gala tree needs to be picked on three different occasions to find fruit of the right colour spec, now trees can be picked once.
“I have always had a soft spot for this New Zealand-bred variety by Bill Ten Hove, which we started to test here in the Cape in the 1970s as I remember – how hard it was to convince the then Deciduous Fruit Board that Royal Gala had real potential in our South African apple industry. At the time, they thought it might be confused with an over-ripe Starking! A few of us believed in Royal Gala and in the Two-a-Day Group, one of the owners of Tru-Cape, we planted the first Royal Gala at Oak Valley Estates and grafted some trees on other farms within the Group. When I received the O.H.S. Reinecke medal from the Cape Pomology Society in 2000 for contribution towards the development of Royal Gala, I thought of it more as a group effort”, Nel reminisces.
Ceres grower Calla du Toit, Tru-Cape’s procurement manager, assisted Nel with the registering of Plant Breeders’ Rights (PBR), valid for 25 years. “Although the numbers are still being finalised, growers that purchase Bigbucks will pay a royalty to plant the tree and a levy on every carton of Bigbucks fruit being sold. Tru-Cape will manage this process and ensure the returns are shared among the PBR owners: Buks Nel, Derek Corder (as Bigbucks is a hybrid of the Corder Gala) and Anthony Rawbone-Viljoen of Oak Valley as Nel found the first fruit there.”
According to du Toit, Bigbucks trees planted in Ceres show the same potential as those planted in Grabouw so this varietal, with its more than 90% pack-out potential, is set to be the most significant find of the decade. This represents a 30% improvement over most. “Gala is among the most planted varietal in the world and there is every reason to think that the 1700 Bigbucks trees currently in the ground and the 20000 to be planted this next season, will grow exponentially. An indication of potential can be seen from the success of Royal Beaut, of which more than 170000 trees were planted last year,” says du Toit.
Nel says that Bigbucks will be picked and stored the same way as other Gala types. “There is a myth that redder fruit has less flavour, but this is an old wives’ tale. Bigbucks is beautiful to look at and delicious to eat. Although it will take some years before there is sufficient volume to market commercially, as trees normally take between five and seven years for full production, this is something to which we all can look forward.”
I most certainly look forward to this new kid on the block becoming part of my life. I’m passionate about apples and love to juice them, bake with them, put them into salads, cook with them and more. They are so versatile, not to mention healthy. Yum!
- 2 large firm crisp apples of your choice thinly peeled and cored
- 1 tbls honey, or to taste
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 1 tsp chopped fresh mint
- 1 cup clear apple juice
- 200ml natural yoghurt
- Ice cubes
Place all the ingredients into a blender and liquidize till smooth.
© Jenny Morris 2015 All rights reserved