Grower trip to South Africa

7 November 2022

In the middle of October, Global Plant Genetics hosted a grower trip to South Africa to look at exciting new blueberry varieties. The trip was organised together with Top Fruit, who are Global Plant Genetics licence holders in South Africa for the University of Georgia blueberry program.  The program has seven commercial varieties and a large number at the testing stage across multiple locations throughout southern Africa.

“The evergreen and low chill varieties are demonstrating superiority for flavour, as well as ticking all the boxes for size, colour and yield. The program at the University of Georgia has long been associated with great flavour profiles a result of a very diverse gene pool and a very experienced breeder in Dr Scott NeSmith” explained Rupert Hargreaves, Global Plant Genetics.

Together, the group represented 7 countries and visited five trial sites across several different growing regions in South Africa. The visit certainly excited those present helping expedite the international roll out of many of these new generation genetics.

Highlights of the week were the following:

Sweet Duchess

Evergreen/ low chill Sweet Duchess proved to be extremely early in season, 2 weeks earlier than many of its main competitors. With its large berries, exceptional flavour, firm, and high yield Sweet Duchess is positioning itself as a future bright star in the blueberry world.


An Evergreen variety with incredibly large yields. Maverick achieved 500 grams per plant 7 months after planting. The same plant 16 months later after planting, produced in the region of 2.5 kilos per plant. This is highly impressive for the South African growing model.

The fruits of Maverick are large and firm, crunchy, and have a unique sweet flavour with a good acid balance. The plant is straightforward to grow with fruit well displayed for ease of harvesting.


Gladiator is slightly newer than sweet Duchess and Maverick in its development plan. The fruit are very large, excellent bloom, incredible flavour huge yield profile. We feel sure this variety along with the 2 above are set to take major roles on the international blueberry stage.

In the pipeline

There were several other varieties and selections we saw, including Early Duchess, Blue Duchess, Ava, and Tropical Blue. The international grower’s trialists that joined us on this trip, were highly enthusiastic about what they were seeing. The commercial volumes and trials that we saw generally mirror what we have already seen in the selection blocks in Georgia USA. The plan now is to roll these out commercially as soon as possible on a global scale.

Marieke Gortemaker from Global plant Genetics spoke to Stephen Belakov, Plants365, who commented that the varieties far exceeded his expectations. He is already seeing the excitement in southern Europe and North Africa from the trials that he has in place in these regions. He discussed looking forward to seeing the commercial planting which is taking place in the short term and noted that some of the other varieties (mentioned above) are looking superb in the regions he represents.

The team at Global Plant Genetics would especially like to thank everyone involved at Top Fruit, South Africa, for welcoming us. It was a first-class trip visiting some superb growers. We consider them a first-class company and partner.

If you would like to receive more information regarding any of the Evergreen and Low Chill varieties, please don’t hesitate to email Rupert Hargreaves at

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