I visited with my good friend Mark Albert a long time collector and unintentional breeder of Feijoa, also known as Pineapple Guava. Mark is a dyed in the wool fruit explorer and has dedicated his life to the pursuit of knowledge in the realms of home gardening and orcharding. More importantly he's driven to share that information (as well as genetic material) forward through the local group, Mendocino Permaculture which puts on the local scion exchange , writing, teaching and personal correspondence all of which no doubt cost him a great deal let alone not resulting in any personal gain. We had a discussion while I was there about that drive to share information which we both share. The idea that someone would earn that kind of hard won knowledge and not share it would probably leave us slack jawed and shaking our heads in bewilderment. If that kind of thing isn't used to help us all progress then what's the point? I hope to do some more video visits with him in the future and get some of his wisdom and opinions out to you guys.
After about 40 years of growing and testing Feijoa, he has some new seedling varieties which have risen to the top. I've confirmed that at his tasting where I unknowingly picked the same favorite he did. They are smaller fruits, but quality over quantity if it comes down to that. Down the page you'll find his recommendations for a early, mid and late feijoa. After this visit I'm planning to put in three to cover the season. I have a smattering of them already placed here and there, but I think it's time to put in a row of better placed, and better cared for, bushes. The plant is very tough and drought resistant once established and it looks good. All around a good one for establishing on the homestead or home landscape if you have the climate for it.
VARIETY RECOMMENDATIONS FROM MARK ALBERT
At the 40 year mark of testing, the list has gotten pretty simple for the north.
The north means our Mendoterranean climate zone, or anywhere north of the bay, where the cooler climate zone will likely not allow the latest-season southern cultivars to ripen to perfection before our cold temperatures stop the ripening or freeze the hanging fruit. This list has a definite bias toward the home grower, with no commercial goal in mind, and quality of fruit comes before size.
The proven cultivars at this point are:
Early season (October): Albert’s Pride or Albert’s Joy
Middle season (November) : Moore
Late Season (December): Albert’s Supreme
Because these cultivars have been selected in the north, they will also work in the southern California when they are not ruined by the Santa Ana winds, the hot, dry wind from the east that can cook the ripening fruit in the fall. It does not work the other way: good southern cultivars may not ripen in the north.
This is an ongoing experiment, and we are now testing the latest New Zealand cultivars which have recently made their way to the U.S. These are likely to be very good, because they newest cultivars were selected by New Zealand feijoa lovers with a more educated pallet, not by paid academicians, as in the past.
Also the biological time factor is that feijoa is a very new fruit, only selected out of the wild in the last 130 years or so from South America. When we look back at the old cultivar names, that’s only 5-6 generations of development. So it makes sense that each generation is higher quality because they are crosses of the best of the previous generation of cultivars. This is how all fruit is improved. The previous 2 waves of New Zealand cultivars were commercial selections and were a bust in California.
So these recommendations may change in the next 5-10 years.