Tree Fruit: Breeding Your Future Success

Let’s say you have the opportunity to introduce a new technology into your farming business that slashes costs for a key management practice by around 90%. Instead of spending $25,000, you spend $2,500.

RosBREED In Action
Here is one example of what technology developed in RosBREED is already doing: The Washington State University cherry breeding program, run by Dr. Nnadozie Oraguzie, now applies marker-assisted breeding, which we also call “DNA-informed breeding,” to help identify individual selections that carry DNA coding for large fruit and self-fertile flowers.

Using tools optimized by RosBREED, Dr. Oraguzie spent $2,500 to extract DNA from 800 seedlings germinated earlier in the year and ran it through the Pacific Northwest Tree Fruit Genotyping Lab in Pullman, WA. Results allowed him to advance only the best 250 plants to the field.

Instead of establishing 550 inferior plants and growing them to flowering and fruiting, Dr. Oraguzie sent them straight to the compost pile, saving around $25,000 in field costs alone. That’s money freed up to spend elsewhere, a good thing for the program as well as the University and grower dollars invested therein.

Furthermore, this new technology is robust and field-tested, ready-to-go, with expert and accessible service after sale. Even better, it’s more accurate than current technologies and can be implemented at your convenience, rather than waiting for favorable weather conditions or hiring a specialized applicator.

Sound like one of those miracle products you’ve been hearing about at winter meetings?

This technology is not a miracle, but it does deliver on what it promises. It’s not a typical ag product or service, but it has indeed been showcased in a number of winter meetings, the most recent involving participants in a large research project called RosBREED (www.rosbreed.org) in San Diego, CA. This project focuses on improving the development and delivery of superior cultivars for rosaceous crops and is funded through the USDA Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI).

The technology itself is called Marker-Assisted Breeding (MAB). In some ways, it’s a very simple process, using our current knowledge of DNA sequences in crop plants to improve selection efficiency in breeding programs. It does so by identifying bits of DNA acting as “markers” — useful because they are inherited together with DNA controlling important traits like fruit sugar levels, plant habit, or disease resistance. Such markers are already employed intensively for field crops like corn and soybeans, as well as many specialty crops (mostly vegetables), but not for many rosaceous crops. RosBREED is changing that, building a genetic knowledge base, developing DNA-based predictive tools, and adapting the approach to crops like almond, apple, cherry, peach, raspberry, rose, and strawberry.

There’s tremendously interesting science in this “simple process.” RosBREED researchers spent a full day in San Diego in January discussing technical details: DNA extraction, genetic validation, statistical functionalities, bioinformatics platforms — not easy stuff for industry stakeholders around the table, but every single one agreed we’re headed in the right direction, with industry input a vital part of the process.

They also agreed those technical details are in very good hands. More than 40 scientists from research institutions worldwide are involved, led by Drs. Amy Iezzoni at Michigan State University and Cameron Peace at Washington State University (WSU). A year into the project, these outstanding scientists and their graduate students are right on target: enabling the efficient development of cultivars that are both grower-friendly and consumer-preferred. (for an example of this, see “RosBREED In Action”)

A Matter Of Science

Of course, DNA-informed tools, the promised outcome of RosBREED, complement, rather than replace, other breeding program activities, and exemplify how the SCRI is transforming the way science is being advanced in specialty crops. Furthermore, that includes social sciences.

Participating in the San Diego meeting were diverse industry stakeholders representing California, Michigan, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, and Washington. They and their organizations will soon participate in a nationwide survey developed by RosBREED’s socio-economics team, a survey that systematically evaluates crop traits of most economic value to producers, processors, packers-shippers, and consumers.

This information will be funneled into breeding programs to help ensure MAB technology focuses on the right crop traits, another way of enhancing program efficiency and effectiveness. As in MAB, this socio-economics approach doesn’t replace other necessary activities, like careful market planning, one-on-one interactions with producers, rapid dissemination of quality information on breeding selections, etc., but it does enhance the likelihood breeding programs produce more successes than failures.

You will be hearing much more about RosBREED (and other SCRI projects) at winter meetings and thereafter. To maintain a competitive edge, our specialty crop industries require this kind of research and Extension activities. Each project may not turn a $25,000 operation into one that costs $2,500, but together they will have lasting impacts across the country for our industries. It is my hope the next round of SCRI projects will have similar impact. It is also my hope the next Farm Bill will not just protect, but will expand funding for this extraordinarily successful program. Stay updated on SCRI projects and relevant news by going to www.growingproduce.com. And, yes, enjoy those winter meetings. Spring is not far off!

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories

VegetablesClifton Seed Co. Presents Their Latest Vegetable Varieties
November 27, 2014
For more information, contact: Clifton Seed Co. P.O. Box 206 Faison, NC 28341 910-267-2690; fax: 910-267-2692 cliftonseed.com Read More
CitrusBe Willing To Take A ‘Wild Turkey’ Approach To Farm Fixes [Opinion]
November 27, 2014
Editor Frank Giles says Florida Grower will be stepping up to the bully pulpit in 2015 addressing topics that impact the industry the most. Read More
CitrusNew Partnership To Expand ‘Fresh From Florida’ Footprint In Taiwan
November 26, 2014
Latest deal puts exclamation point on successful Asia marketing campaign. Read More
Insect & Disease UpdateCalifornia OKs Asian Citrus Psyllid Insecticide
November 26, 2014
Agriphar Crop Solutions’ Micromite 80WGS is also effective on several other citrus pests. Read More
VegetablesAmerican Takii Presents Its Latest Vegetable Varieties
November 26, 2014
For more information, contact: American Takii 301 Natividad Rd. Salinas, CA 93906 831-443-4901; fax: 831-443-3976 takii.com Read More
FruitsWet December Predicted For Parched California
November 25, 2014
National Weather Service says above-normal precipitation expected; it may continue through the winter in central and southern parts of the Golden State. Read More
Apples & PearsEPA Approves Three New Moth Mating Disruption Products
November 25, 2014
Codling moth and oriental fruit moth are targeted by apple and pear growers. Read More
VegetablesSakata Hosts Annual Fall Field Trials
November 25, 2014
Growers and dealer partners gather to see new varieties at the company's South Florida field station. Read More
VegetablesStokes Seeds Presents Their Latest Vegetable Varieties
November 25, 2014
For more information, contact: Stokes Seeds P.O. Box 548 Buffalo, NY 14240-0548 800-263-7233; fax: 800-272-5560 stokesseeds.com Read More
VegetablesAbbott & Cobb Presents Their Latest Vegetable Varieties
November 25, 2014
For more information, contact: Abbott & Cobb P.O. Box 307 Feasterville, PA 19053 800-245-SEED; fax:215-245-9043 abbotcobb.com Read More

The Latest

VegetablesClifton Seed Co. Presents Their Latest Vegetable Variet…
November 27, 2014
For more information, contact: Clifton Seed Co. P.O. Box 206 Faison, NC 28341 910-267-2690; fax: 910-267-2692 cliftonseed.com Read More
CitrusBe Willing To Take A ‘Wild Turkey’ Approach…
November 27, 2014
Editor Frank Giles says Florida Grower will be stepping up to the bully pulpit in 2015 addressing topics that impact the industry the most. Read More
CitrusNew Partnership To Expand ‘Fresh From Florida’ Foot…
November 26, 2014
Latest deal puts exclamation point on successful Asia marketing campaign. Read More
Insect & Disease UpdateCalifornia OKs Asian Citrus Psyllid Insecticide
November 26, 2014
Agriphar Crop Solutions’ Micromite 80WGS is also effective on several other citrus pests. Read More
VegetablesAmerican Takii Presents Its Latest Vegetable Varieties
November 26, 2014
For more information, contact: American Takii 301 Natividad Rd. Salinas, CA 93906 831-443-4901; fax: 831-443-3976 takii.com Read More
FruitsWet December Predicted For Parched California
November 25, 2014
National Weather Service says above-normal precipitation expected; it may continue through the winter in central and southern parts of the Golden State. Read More
Apples & PearsEPA Approves Three New Moth Mating Disruption Products
November 25, 2014
Codling moth and oriental fruit moth are targeted by apple and pear growers. Read More
VegetablesSakata Hosts Annual Fall Field Trials
November 25, 2014
Growers and dealer partners gather to see new varieties at the company's South Florida field station. Read More
VegetablesStokes Seeds Presents Their Latest Vegetable Varieties
November 25, 2014
For more information, contact: Stokes Seeds P.O. Box 548 Buffalo, NY 14240-0548 800-263-7233; fax: 800-272-5560 stokesseeds.com Read More
VegetablesAbbott & Cobb Presents Their Latest Vegetable Varie…
November 25, 2014
For more information, contact: Abbott & Cobb P.O. Box 307 Feasterville, PA 19053 800-245-SEED; fax:215-245-9043 abbotcobb.com Read More
VegetablesVariety Trials 2014: Rupp Seeds
November 25, 2014
Check out new pumpkins weighing between 18 and 20 pounds as well as new powdery-mildew tolerant butternut squash hybrids. Read More
Food SafetyMultistate Salmonella Outbreak Linked To Bean Sprouts
November 25, 2014
FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with state and local officials continue to investigate the food-borne illness outbreak. Read More
Insect & Disease UpdateCitrus Survey: New Management Techniques Trending
November 25, 2014
Growers widen their tactical approach to survive HLB. Read More
FruitsFruitGrowerConnect Brings Buyers And Sellers Together […
November 25, 2014
Suppliers and growers got down to business in San Diego discussing current needs, solutions, and ways to increase efficiencies on the farm. Read More
Vegetables15 Must Have Carrot Varieties [Slideshow]
November 24, 2014
Browse the slideshow for information on 13 carrot varieties to add to your collection. Read More
CitrusReasons Aplenty Florida Growers Should Feel Good Going …
November 24, 2014
Thanks to recent industry achievements, the next 12-month period is shaping up to be a year to remember --- fondly. Read More
BerriesSuspected Borer Could Be Big Bother To Florida Blueberr…
November 24, 2014
Producers warned to be on the lookout as scientists probe samples. Read More
NutsWatch Your Almonds’ Salt Intake
November 24, 2014
Because of the current California drought, almond growers must pay extra attention to soil salinity. Read More