Taste Is Back on the Front Burner for Vegetable Breeders
In the pursuit for solving some of the biggest problems for growers, breeders have sometimes ignored flavor.
Here are two breeders who have made taste a top priorty.
Pat Mosely, HM. Clause
Crop: ‘Quality Elite’ super sweet corn
HM. Clause sweet corn breeder, Pat Mosely, and the sweet corn team work with genetics inherited from Mesa Maize (acquired in 2010) to identify successful crosses with HM. Clause germplasm. Through continuous work on genetic conversion of the two lines, the company has introduced some of the best-tasting, highest eating quality sweet corn varieties on the market.
Sold and marketed under the Harris Moran brand, the ‘Quality Elite’ line of sweet corn from HM. Clause offers significant improvements in five key areas: ear size, brix, kernel color, husk protection, and field-holding ability. The real breakthrough, however, is in taste. ‘Quality Elite’ sweet corn is recognizably different and improved in overall eating quality compared to the rest of the sweet corn market.
Rakesh Kumar, Syngenta
The popular Eastern and Western shipper melons have some challenges, mainly a short shelflife and the need for a lot of labor, Kumar says.
“Melons that slip from the vine need to be picked every day over a period of 10 to 15 days,” he says.
The seed industry has been working on these problems, resulting in melons that require less harvesting and, as a result, a longer shelf life, Kumar says.
“Growers can harvest a field with two to three picks rather than the 10 to 15 normally required,” he says.
The only problem? Good flavor was often sacrificed for these improvements. So Kumar and his team are working hard to maintain the previous improvements while boosting flavor.
“Our newest introductions, ‘Sweet Spring’ and ‘Sweet Sunrise,’ are great examples,” Kumar says. “For growers who prefer traditional Eastern shippers, Syngenta also has two additional new introductions, ‘Accolade’ and ‘Astound.’”