The increase in ethnic diversity in the U.S., as well as changes in the diet habits of the public for health considerations, have opened a large market for tropical/subtropical fruits. Increased production of many tropical fruits, however, is hindered by a lack of basic information on how physiological, horticultural, environmental, entomological and pathological variables affect tropical fruit production systems and how these interact to influence harvestable yield.
Promising germplasm of mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana), mamey sapote (Pouteria sapota), papaya (Carica papaya), lychee (Litchi chinensis), longan (Dimocarpus longan), carambola (Averrhoa carambola), rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum) and sapodilla (Manilkara sapotilla) are being introduced and evaluated at various ecological zones for tolerance to pests and diseases, yield, acid soil tolerance, drought tolerance, nutrient use efficiency, and scion/rootstock compatibility. The development of a tropical fruit industry will allow for an expanded trade between the U.S. and other markets. The research conducted in this project directly impact "small farms" and "social disadvantaged/ limited resource" producers in rural areas by providing growers in these regions alternative high-cash crops and best management practices which should result in improved socio-economic conditions for rural families.
The project is a component of National Program 301, Plant, Microbial, and Insect Genetic Resources, Genomics and Genetic Improvement.