A Gunnedah citrus grower is just weeks away from harvest on a prized orange crop, months ahead of his competitors.

The m7 is a new variety of the ultra-early navel orange and one of the earliest to ripen in Australia.

Robert Hoddle has about 300 of the special variety orange trees growing on his Gunnedah citrus farm at Gunnible.

The m7 is renowned for its perfect characteristics in terms of long harvest period (four months), its totally round shape, high quality and exquisite taste.

The m7 early navel about eight weeks prior to harvest.

The variety was discovered in 2004 by Greg and Susan Chrislett from Kenley, Victoria, and is now grown on farms around the world including in Europe, North America and South America.

The Chrisletts recently stopped by Mr Hoddle’s Gunnedah orchard to view progress of the new fruit being grown.

Among other inspections, the fruit was tested for its sugar content using as a specialised instrument called a refractometer, and the early indications were good.

Mr Hoddle harvested a small crop last year which was sold to a Sydney market and said the fruit was full of flavour.

One of the first harvests of the new variety was a ray of hope after a tough growing year last season. He said the market was overwhelmed by poor quality fruit from other farms but he hoped for a better year ahead in 2024.

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