Modern Fruit Breeding

Modern Trends in Fruit Breeding – Breeding is no longer a simple case of increasing productivity. Disease resistance, quality, and increasingly, demands from processors and retailers who want to promote health and nutritional qualities are changing breeding criteria and priorities.

The development of DNA-based markers has had a revolutionary impact on gene mapping and thus scientists can make selections according to the specific and different interests of various “client groups” from fruit growers to the processing industry to supermarket retailers, and, of course, to the final consumers. What it means is that the breeding criteria will be highly focused on consumers.

Pest and diseases resistance so that organic markets can be expanded. Breeding in this direction is attempting to achieve zero chemical residues in the product. In Green house Vegetable Industry, vegetables like cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce and more recently, strawberries, are being grown with no chemical input. This is achieved by using disease resistant varieties, and managing health of the plants, rather than pesticide use. One has to visit some farmers markets to see what happens when consumers and producers are brought face to face.

Yield and Consistency is very important from a supply and marketing viewpoint. we can benefit from varieties of fruits and vegetables which are frost tolerant, and we can supply the market for longer periods of time. Mushrooms are a good example where yield and consistency are maintained year round. The processing industry (Fruit juice, soft drinks, yogurt, freeze dried products, etc.) has a different requirement when compared to fresh industry. It is primarily interested in the content and nutrient value of vegetables and fruits. They are interested to find varieties which have higher juice squeezable rate, higher sugar concentration and vitamin and mineral content. Markets should want fruit and vegetables with consumer appeal, attractive appear ance, with a sweet, juicy texture and a size matching with use.

I wish, when awareness like this becomes norm in Pakistan.

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