A new variety of avocado tree is about to be released to growers across the globe.

The “Luna UCR” — also known by its scientific name of BL516 — was developed by agricultural scientists at the University of California, Riverside. The patent for this flavorful, black-skinned avocado is still pending, but that hasn’t stopped the agricultural and culinary worlds from eagerly anticipating its arrival. After all, it’s been in development for over 60 years.

Luna UCR’s avocado ancestors are the Hass, the Thille, and the Gwen. Additionally, its existence owes a lot to Berthold “Bob” Orphie Berg, an Army veteran who served as a clerk in World War II before earning university degrees in agriculture, horticulture, and genetics. Berg’s academic career eventually took him to the University of California’s Riverside location, where he served as an award-winning genetics professor for decades. There, he specialized in avocado breeding and even developed several varieties of the fruit, including the Gwen (which he named after his wife), the Harvest, the Esther, the Whitsell, and the GEM.

Before Berg’s passing in 2021, he spent years planting as many as 70,000 genetically different avocado seedings in San Bernardino, Ventura, and San Luis Obispo counties. All three locations had different climates. One year, a winter freeze killed all the trees planted in San Bernardino while sparing some of the Ventura trees. One of those trees in Ventura county became the first tree to bear Luna UCR avocados.

So, what makes the Luna UCR different from other avocados? For starters, the trees are small, which allows growers to plant them in dense, close rows. Pruning is minimal. Harvests are safe and efficient. The flavor is top-notch, too, and the green rind turns black when the fruit is ripe. That means consumers will no longer have to play guessing games when it comes to cutting into their avocados. Once the Luna UCR turns black, it’s ready to be eaten.

There’s one final horticultural advantage: pollination. According to a press release from UCR, “the varietal also produces a type of flower that makes it an efficient pollinizer for various avocado varieties, including the stalwart hass, the world’s leading avocado variety. Planting Luna UCRs intermingled with other varieties could help ensure good yields by increasing pollination rates.” That means more bees, more pollination, better harvests, and — if all goes according to plan — happier customers.

If you’re looking to add new varieties to your growing operation, stop by one of our FGS supply centers today or contact us here to get the growing support materials you need! We also offer everything from fertilizer, tree stakes, customized irrigation systems to state-of-the-art corrugated packaging, making us an ideal partner for all stages of the growing process.

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