Vegetable Breeders Making Major Disease Resistance Breakthroughs
Editor’s note: American Vegetable Grower® is celebrating the vegetable industry’s breeders in a series of articles.
Giving growers vegetables that will help them in their fight against pests is a top goal for breeders. Every so often, new diseases threaten to wipe out crops, or the number of diseases a single crop has to fight off gets so high that growers begin considering changing to new crops.
These two breeders have delivered major disease-resistance advancements, much to the relief of tomato and pepper growers everywhere.
Bill McCarthy, Seminis
Crop: Disease-resistant bell peppers
“I have a real interest in products that allow the grower to use less pesticides,” says McCarthy.
Rispens Seeds’ Ian Jenkins thinks McCarthy’s work on bell peppers is worth celebrating.
“Just recently, [Seminis] introduced bell peppers with resistance to 10 races of bacterial leaf spot, which a big deal. Also, now he must be working on adding Phytophthora resistance to that which is also extremely important,” Jenkins says.
McCarthy says that when the first X10R variety (which Jenkins refers to above) was developed, Seminis converted its entire pepper breeding program to it. And that’s a significant investment, since Seminis can boast of 15 to 16 pepper breeders at any given time.
Felix Serquen, VoloAgri
Crop: Fusarium 3-resistant tomatoes
Serquen, VoloAgri’s Global Director of Solanaceae Breeding, has just released a breakthrough series of new Fusarium 3 tomato hybrids for customer trials.
Tomato growers in California have been struggling to get this newer strain of Fusarium under control, with little success so far.
Serquen has bred Fusarium 3 resistance, along with a spectrum of other disease packages, into varieties which also have the fruit attributes customers and consumers are looking for.
“These varieties were the tomato hit of our Woodland customer trials in August,” says Chris Cook, VoloAgri’s Chief Marketing Officer.