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All the latest news on Starke Ayres’ vegetable seed varieties, and the success that commercial vegetable seed farmers have achieved using them.

This page will also be updated with new seed variety releases and other commercial seed industry news.

Hybrid Butternut addition.

The STARKE AYRES range of butternuts was launched some 4 years ago and has enjoyed an increasing market share since then. The first releases, SHIBA and GILDA are still the mainstay of the range, but more recent additions are also gaining in popularity. ARELA (trialed as MO 868) has consistently proved to have very good uniformity of both size and shape with little ribbing over a range of growing conditions. A low percentage of large fruit is produced with the majority falling in the medium (0.9 – 1.4Kg) category in summer plantings. For markets that require fruit of up to 1Kg in weight, PETA has delivered this from summer crops. 


A particular challenge has been to find a variety that can deliver good yields of medium-sized fruit in winter plantings. These are made in frost-free regions, chiefly in the North of the country. Varieties that give the required size in summer produce smaller fruit in this time slot, so a variety with large fruit size is needed. The release of KRISTA (MO 877) aims to fill this need. Trials over the last 2 winter seasons have shown the variety is capable of producing good yields of the desired fruit size for the fresh market. If KRISTA is planted for summer production a lot of large (2Kg +) fruit can be expected. Butternuts generally achieve greater size in more Southerly locations, so growers in the Cape provinces should be aware that KRISTA will produce particularly large fruit under their conditions. If the crop is intended for processing, high yields will be realized, but most fruit will be larger than ideal for the fresh market.


The STARKE AYRES butternut breeding programme is constantly expanding with several hundred new crosses being evaluated every year. Further improved additions to the range can be expected in the near future.


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