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Hands go up for latest garden citrus

Media release 13/4/00

Hands go up for latest garden citrus

Home gardeners can't wait to get their hands on the latest release from the New Zealand Citrus Budwood Scheme - there have been 1,200 advance orders for the Buddha's Hand Citron, a uniquely shaped and beautifully perfumed plant, available for the first time in New Zealand.

Nurserymen, anticipating the demand, have been calling HortResearch's Kerikeri Research Centre to order the first plants from this year's bud-cutting season.

"It's an eye-catching fruit and has a beautiful smell - lots of fruit salad aroma. It's great for perfuming wardrobes and clothing drawers," said Ben Hackett, who operates the budwood glasshouses at Kerikeri.

"The fruit is split down its length into a number of finger- like sections. It has yellow rind and no flesh or seeds. It is used extensively in China and Japan for perfuming rooms and clothes and as an ornament at religious ceremonies."

Citrus & Exotic Crops Portfolio Manager Dr Pauline Mooney said: "The Budwood Scheme is in its eighth year. It ensures that the citrus industry is based on superior fruit selections. New Zealand is the coldest citrus growing area in the world, so we aim to improve fruit types to suit New Zealand conditions, and growers are starting off with the best commercial trees possible."

The research centre has two MAF- accredited quarantine glasshouses on site, where plants from overseas must be held for six months before they can be released commercially. Scientists test the plants for tristeza virus, the worst and most widespread citrus disease in the world, before they can join the Budwood Scheme.

(256 words)

jpg images of Ben Hackett and an example of the Citron fruit are available from our website:

For further information please contact:
Deborah Potter, Communications Manager
Private Bag 11 030
Palmerston North
Tel: +64-6-351 7000 extn 7726
Fax: +64-6-351 7038

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