The next big thing in Coachella Valley agriculture could be a small, red tropical fruit that’s produced by a flowering cactus plant native to Mexico and South America.

Pitahaya — also known as “dragon fruit” — has the potential to quickly establish itself as a new, water-efficient crop for Southern California, according to researchers and advisers at the University of California’s Cooperative Extension (UCCE) programs in San Diego and Riverside County.

Test crops are being grown in San Diego and Irvine, and the results were revealed to a group of about 40 local growers during a presentation last week at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Service Center in Indio.

“The fruit size and quality is good ... we’re getting great marketable yields,” said Ramiro Lobo, small farms and agricultural economics adviser at UCCE San Diego.

For more, see: 'Dragon fruit' pitched as hot desert's new cash crop