Cape Town – A troop of baboons has inadvertently discovered a new citrus cultivar for a farmer in the Western Cape.
Alwyn van der Merwe, production director of an estate near Citrusdal, 200 kilometres north of Cape Town, said the new fruit has proved to be not only to be sweeter than normal oranges, but will also lengthen the season by at least three weeks.
He disclosed that every year the farm has been targeted by a troop of baboons which descended from the mountains and always selected one tree among thousands of trees in one of the orchards.
Van der Merwe added that that after inspection, it was discovered that the sweetness grade of that particular tree was much higher than the rest of the orchard and that it started bearing fruit at least three weeks earlier than expected.
Farmers then set about grafting some shoots of the tree onto standard root stock and passed it on the Citrus Growers Association, at Uitenhage, where the trees are now being multiplied in greenhouse tunnels.