What Are The Best Durian Cultivars To Grow?
Updated: Oct 22, 2020
OK, I won't give an open ended answer for this like "plant what you like to eat" kind of answer, that would be too easy. I'll discuss on each of the normal parameters that one would consider when decided on growing any type of commercial crop.
Best in Terms of Current Market Prices
In Malaysia, if we look at the commercial aspect the highest prices that a durian can fetch in the market place are the D197 Musang King and the D200 Duri Hitam. Ideally farmers and growers should plant the majority of their saplings with this type of clones while adding 25% - 30% remaining with other clones.
Prices of durians does fluctuate from year to year but in general, these 2 clones will stay at the high end of the price band. As for the future, nobody knows.
Decision based on highest market prices are common place but a durian grower would also decide based on selecting a sought after, good clone with medium market prices which makes it affordable to the general public. An example of this is the D160 or also famously know as Musang Queen or Tekka. Another example is D168 (Mas Muar)
Prices of D160 and D168 are considered above average and does commands a following among durian enthusiast. Export market influence is almost non-existance for D160 and D168 but local demand for this clone is strong at the time of writing.
Another example of a 2nd tier durian clone is the evergreen demand D24 also know as Bukit Merah or Sultan.
Registered before Malaysia's independence, the D24 had always been among the top clones and once held market dominance before the introduction of the D197 and D200.
This clone still retains its commercial value albeit at a slight tone-down pricing. The D24 is considered as the clone that everyone knows and grew up with and is widely used as the ingredient for manufactured food item such as durian flavored muffins and buns, ice creams and chocolates.
With the extensive removal or cutting down of matured D24 trees mostly in Pahang and Perak where it was originally cultivated the most, in part to make way for D197 and D200 cutivation, D24 trees will be considered a minor clone type in the future.
Best in Terms of Disease Resistance
In my 2+ years of durian cultivation experience, what I have observed is there is a wide difference in regards to disease resistance between different clone types.
I will say that the Musang King is observed to be the most fungus susceptible. It is very susceptible to Rhizoctonia solani. The clone is also susceptible to Anthracnose.
As per my field observations, the best resistance to fungus is the D200 and the D159 or better know as Monthong.
Monthong originates from Thailand and is the nation's #1 export clone whereby 95% of durians exported by Thailand is the Monthong durian.
There are many Thai clones sapling available in the market such as Kan Yao, Chanee, Puangmanee, Nok Kracip etc. but none of these I have in my farm as such I couldn't ascertain its level of disease resistance.
Best in Terms of Fruit Yield
This title will go to D99 or better known as Kop Kecil. It is quite an uncommon clone in local durian farms or orchards mainly due to its lack of bitter aftertaste and small fruit not to mention a lack of following but it makes up with a bumper harvest each year provided the tree is healthy and well fertilized.
In newly established durian orchards, this clone is specifically planted among other well-known clones to assist in cross pollination and to increase fruit set.
Best in Terms of Future Market Potential
During the time of writing, there is an atmosphere of renewed excitement for the MDUR88 durian clone. This clone is the research cultivar by the Malaysian Agricultural Research & Development Institute (MARDI) and was introduced to the market in 1992.
Not common in the Malaysian market even after 18 years due to the fact that MARDI did not aggressively promote their flagship cultivar considering the subdued durian market/industry and lack of orchard owner's interest in the early 90's to the first decade of the century.
MDUR88 is said to be under the government's radar to be among the other potential clone apart from Musang King being slated for the export market.
Another clone which is gaining a following albeit quietly is the D145 a.ka. Beserah. This clone is gaining popularity slowly for the past 2 years because of its taste (for those who have taste it) coupled with the rarity of the fruit. Very uncommon at road side stalls or durian selling joints.
To add on to this topic, I would consider a durian clone which is said to be sought after by our neighboring Singaporeans to this list. This is the D198 a.k.a Kim Hong.
D198 shares the same characteristics as D99, having a small, round shaped fruit and could be planted for assisting fruit set success rate of other clones.
Finally, a clone which is considered viral in the past 6 months of this writing is the Tupai King. Due to its viral status, saplings of 1 ft. are selling at MYR120 a pop with 3 ft. size saplings going for MYR400 per plant.
This clone is not yet registered with the Department of Agriculture as such it does not have a 'D' name to it. Tupai King originates from the northern state of Penang in which nursery owners would take the scion from adult trees located in the state and produce grafted saplings at their nurseries.
Rare Durian Clone Selections
I know of some nursery owner and a durian grower which plant rare clone types exclusively at their farm.
The definition of 'rare' could be a combination of hard to get unregistered cultivars (most of it are cultivars from Penang) or cultivars from Thailand and Indonesia.
These cultivars does not necessarily commands a high market price and public demand nor they have good taste but the drive behind why farm owners grow these cultivars is because of its rarity, to establish a personal family collection (heritage), unique physical appearance, conservation efforts or as a scion harvesting source for nursery owners intending to sell saplings of these cultivars.
I apologize for not putting in photos of the durians that I've discussed in this article since I don't have any of my own and taking other people's photos would be a copyright infringement.
Nonetheless, do comment in the comment form below with your thought on this article. Cheers.