By Alison Ballance
Creating the perfect late-season apricot is one of the holy grails of Plant and Food Research's summerfruit breeding programme. Alison Ballance found Research Associate Arlene Bradley in amongst the spring blossom at the Clyde research orchard in Central Otago. Each spring Arlene and her team take over the job of the local bees, hand-pollinating thousands of flowers in the quest to breed an apricot which will be good to grow, delicious to eat and which will ripen at the perfect time to fill a gap in the world market.
An apricot blossom, showing pollen-bearing anthers surrounding the female style and stigma. Photo credit: Arlene Bradley/Plant and Food Research
Removing petals and male anthers prior to hand pollination. Previously pollinated blossoms on right of branch. Photo: Alison Ballance
Apricot fruitlet a few weeks after pollination. Photo credit: Arlene Bradley/Plant and Food Research