search
Hybrid salad

Black apricots and ‘watermelon plums’: Farm grows unique fruits

Located in fertile Hula Valley, farming family utilizes traditional cross-breeding techniques to produce distinctive climate-friendly crops

  • A variety of 'watermelon plum,' one of the creations of hybrid fruits by a hybrid fruit grower in the moshav of Yesod HaMa'Ala in northern Israel, July 21, 2022. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
    A variety of 'watermelon plum,' one of the creations of hybrid fruits by a hybrid fruit grower in the moshav of Yesod HaMa'Ala in northern Israel, July 21, 2022. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
  • A variety of Watermelon Plum, one of the creations by an Israeli hybrid fruit grower in the moshav of Yesod HaMa'Ala in northern Israel, on July 21, 2022. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
    A variety of Watermelon Plum, one of the creations by an Israeli hybrid fruit grower in the moshav of Yesod HaMa'Ala in northern Israel, on July 21, 2022. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
  • A farm worker unloads crates of Watermelon Plum, a variety of hybrid fruit in a specialised farm in the moshav of Yesod HaMa'Ala in northern Israel, on July 21, 2022. (JACK GUEZ/AFP)
    A farm worker unloads crates of Watermelon Plum, a variety of hybrid fruit in a specialised farm in the moshav of Yesod HaMa'Ala in northern Israel, on July 21, 2022. (JACK GUEZ/AFP)
  • A farm worker unloads crates of Watermelon Plum, a variety of hybrid fruit in a specialised farm in the moshav of Yesod HaMa'Ala in northern Israel, on July 21, 2022. (JACK GUEZ/AFP)
    A farm worker unloads crates of Watermelon Plum, a variety of hybrid fruit in a specialised farm in the moshav of Yesod HaMa'Ala in northern Israel, on July 21, 2022. (JACK GUEZ/AFP)

An Israeli family farm has spent decades developing hybrid fruits, from black apricots to “watermelon plums,” which it says offer unique flavors and added resilience against a changing climate.

Ben Dor Fruits and Nurseries is based in Yesud HaMa’ala, a northern community founded in the 1880s during the first wave of Jewish immigration to Palestine, then under Ottoman Empire control.

Using classic cross-breeding techniques, it has created unique varieties of stone fruits in its orchards in the fertile Hula Valley in the northern Galilee.

Among its offerings are “pomegranate plums,” which are particularly sweet, “watermelon plums” with red flesh and green skin, and the bright yellow “lamoon” plum, shaped like an inverted teardrop and with a slightly tart flavor.

“We saw there is potential for expansion on supermarket shelves if we develop fruits that are different and special in their shape and taste,” said the director of the business, Sefi Ben Dor.

The annual production, which averages between two and three tons, also includes apricots of different colors, notably red and black.

A variety of ‘watermelon plum,’ one of the creations by an Israeli hybrid fruit grower in the moshav of Yesod HaMa’Ala in northern Israel, on July 21, 2022. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)

For years, the family grew mainly for export, and it has licensed farms in 33 countries to produce their hybrids, the company said. But the disruptions of the Covid pandemic turned its focus back to Israel.

The director’s son, Ido Ben Dor, said the company is working on adapting new varieties, with a focus on resistance to the effects of climate change.

Ben Dor’s work is seen as a “welcome initiative” in adapting plants to changing temperatures, said Yoram Kapulnik, former director of the Volcani Center, Israel’s national agricultural research facility.

Kapulnik, who heads the US-Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund, said hybridization can make varieties more resilient to drought and allow farmers to use fewer pesticides, creating “relative advantages to the produce so we can enjoy it for longer.”

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed