Red bayberry - the journey to its commercialisation in Australia
Red or Chinese bayberry (Morella rubra Sieb. and Zucc.) is a fruit tree native to China where it is typically known as Yang Mei. This summer season crop has been cultivated for centuries in the warm and humid south-eastern Provinces. The 'lychee-sized' fruit are usually deep red in colour when ripe, have a unique flavour and impart a soft and juicy mouthfeel considered 'refreshing'. Red bayberry is highly prized in China for its flavour and also for its perceived health benefits. However, the fruit is virtually unknown elsewhere. The crop was introduced into Australia over a decade ago. Its introduction offered the prospect of counter-seasonal production for the rapidly expanding Chinese market as well as introducing a novel fruit to Australian consumers. Trial plantings ranging from Far North Queensland to Victoria and across to Western Australia, have shown that red bayberry can be successfully cultivated in this country. These trials have supported the selection of unique high-performing cultivars. Nonetheless, commercial production of red bayberry in Australia still faces challenges. Vegetative propagation of this woody species proved difficult. Accordingly, efficient protocols that work in commercial nursery practice had to be developed. Also, refinement of agronomic practices for Australian conditions was necessary to ensure consistent yields of high quality fruit. In addition, the inherent high perishability of the fresh fruit required investigation of novel postharvest treatments to extend shelf life. This paper overviews the research undertaken by The University of Queensland to address these issues. Progress entailed close collaboration with research and industry partners. Positive outcomes to date have established the potential for Australia to become a leading producer of red bayberry outside China.
Perkins, M.L. and Joyce, D.C. (2018). Red bayberry - the journey to its commercialisation in Australia. Acta Hortic. 1205, 281-288
agronomy, fruit quality, Myricaceae, new crop development