Good Fruit Grower

November 2013

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Gavin Porter says people love talking about new fruit varieties. by O. Casey Corr PHOTO COURTESY OF GAVIN PORTER Sweetie, Smitten, and PAPPLE T Porter says new varieties open doors for growers, but farmers who know their costs are most likely to be successful. he belief that certain apples have superior value perhaps began when a slithery creature wiggled up to Adam and Eve, hissing, "Try this. It has a nice balance of sweetness and tartness, and a sinfully good crunch." Adam and Eve validated what we know today: consumers will pay big for an apple of perceived value. Popular varieties fetch excellent prices. Take the Honeycrisp apple. It rules the supermarket produce section just as Alaska's renowned Copper River salmon commands the seafood counter. TREE PLANTER The willingness of consumers to pay higher prices for prestige fruit has given rise to networks of researchers, nurseries, growers, marketers, and industry associations who treat fruit as intellectual property that requires legal protection, managed licensing, and staged marketing campaigns to spur buying around the world. Those mechanisms seek to ensure profits for those on every step in the supply chain. Such organizations exist to popularize emerging varieties such as red-fleshed apples or Washington State's WA 38 apple. One man flourishing in that network is Gavin Porter, chief executive of the Australian Nurserymen's Fruit Improvement Company, which is owned by 12 tree fruit nurseries. The company deals in a diverse array of fruit, including mangos, table grapes, apples, pears, apricots, and nectarines. Porter grew up as a self-described townie in the farming region around Gatton, Australia, the child of par ents who managed the local Mitre 10 hardware store. Porter went on to earn his bachelor's degree in horticulture technology and a Ph.D. in botany, taught for many years at a university, and became a leader in intellectual property management and commercialization of new fruit varieties. Last year, The University of Queensland awarded him the Gatton Gold Medal for his contributions to horticulture and education. Global village A properly planted tree produces like no other. • Adjustable tree depth. • Works on stony and tough ground. • Shoe swings for handling. • Electronic distance marker also available. • Two row tool bar available. We offer a full line of fruit & vegetable equipment: Box Rotator Box Shuttle Double Fork Ground Hog Frost Fan Economy LIft 3-Point Forks 3-Point Hi Lift Conveyors Freight-Mate Durand Wayland Sprayers See NW H us at the ort E GrEa and the xpo t Lak ES Ex po PHIL BROWN WELDING CORP. phone (616) 784-3046 • fax: (616) 784-5852 • 4689—8 mile rd nW, Conklin, michigan 49403 Contact Vine Tech Equipment your Northwest Phil Brown Dealer 509-788-0900 36 NOVEMBER 2013 Good Fruit Grower Porter recently visited the United States for a gathering of members of the Associated International Group of Nurseries, based in Yakima, Washington, of which he is chief executive officer. He took a break from visiting with colleagues, researchers, and growers to talk with Good Fruit Grower about industry trends and his observations of which Australian growers best succeed. The AIGN started 25 years ago as an organization formed to share information about rootstocks and varieties and to assist members seeking to enter different markets around the world. Porter says the need for an organization such as AIGN has grown. "The world has become such a small, global village, if you want to call it that now, that you cannot do anything in isolation anymore," said Porter. "So the ability to work with members all over the world because we're exporting and importing, the ability to protect new fruit varieties amongst that sort of global trade, is more important now than ever before." Interest in intellectual property protection has grown for many reasons, including the increase in private development of new varieties and the reality that development costs may not be recovered for a decade or more. A profitable new variety must not only cover its own development costs, but also those for varieties that fail. As little as 1 percent of new varieties prove to be profitable, Porter said.

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