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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: STONE FRUIT BREEDING AND DEVELOPMENT
2013 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
Develop improved varieties of peaches and plums for the southeastern United States, and improved clonal and seedling rootstocks for peach and other stone fruits.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
Superior breeding lines and varieties with unique characters are hybridized, and the best seedlings selected. These selections are tested in multiple years and locations to identify those truly superior to existing varieties in terms of productivity, firmness and quality. These are then named and released for the public to grow.

Parental rootstock lines with superior resistance to peach tree short life and Armillaria root rot as well as other desirable traits, are intercrossed to produce seedlings with the desired characteristics. Extensive testing is used to identify those hybrids which have the requisite combination of disease resistance and horticultural traits for successful commercial use.


3.Progress Report:
The research outlined in this project contributes to the overall mission of ARS to develop new technology and knowledge in order to solve deciduous tree fruit and nut problems of high national priority. This research addresses the development of improved stone fruit varieties and rootstocks along with new management strategies for the control of important soil borne diseases and pests. The results of this work will reduce costs to the grower, reduce pesticide use to minimize residues on the fruit and in the environment, improve the availability of healthful fruits, and increase consumer demand for stone fruit.

In FY 2013 hybridizations were made for the peach breeding programs. Spring bloom time weather this year was much congenial for successful pollinations. Peach seedlings for the collaborative moderate chill variety development program were planted into the field for evaluation. Advanced variety selections nearing completion of evaluations were scaled up in anticipation of impending release(s). Evaluations were made in the high chill variety development program by the newly hired breeder who was assisted by the former incumbent (now retired).

Hand pollinated crosses were made for the rootstock development program. New peach tree short life, Armillaria root rot, and horticultural trials were established at the Byron location. Previously established grower trials at other locations are continuing to be evaluated. New root-knot nematode trials were established with a cooperator in FL. New rootstock selections were made and propagated for further development. Advanced rootstocks selections nearing completion of evaluations were scaled up in anticipation of impending release(s).

Substantial progress has been achieved in working out a clonal propagation protocol for MP-29 rootstock to facilitate it’s progression into large scale commercial production of finished trees for the SE peach industry. Nurseries appear to have a production scheme that will work satisfactorily. Final cost per unit is still uncertain but will undoubtedly drop as nurseries continue to scale up. A second nursery has been licensed to produce tissue cultured plantlets of MP-29 for sale to propagation nurseries. First commercial sales of trees propagated on MP-29 commenced this spring.

The establishment of grower trial blocks has been arranged under the auspices of MTA’s with several commercial growers to further evaluate 25 advanced peach selections that ripen during the commercial shipping season. This will allow them to be evaluated under realistic commercial management protocols. These selections have been observed in the USDA station at Byron, GA for several years. They offer outstanding fruit quality characteristics and superior horticultural performance for use in this region.

This project was replaced by bridging project #6606-21000-003-00D pending completion of the current review process.


4.Accomplishments
1. ‘GulfAtlas’, a new low-chill mid-season peach proposed for release/patenting. Traditional peach varieties utilized in the early season fresh market peach shipping industry of the southeastern United States are no longer suitable for profitable commercial production. Researchers at ARS, Byron, Georgia, jointly developed a new peach, ‘GulfAtlas’, with the University of Georgia and the University of Florida. That provides an attractive, mid-season ripening, non-melting, yellow-fleshed peach for the fresh-market local sales and shipping industries. ‘GulfAtlas’ is adapted to moderate-chilling areas such as the lower coastal plain of the southeastern United States, and ripens about three weeks after ‘June Gold’ peach when it has virtually no competition in this production area. Trees produce a large, attractive, sweet tasting, non-melting, yellow-fleshed fruit intended for the fresh fruit market. It is expected to produce fruit with tree-ripened aroma and taste while retaining firmness for longer shelf life than fruit from conventional melting-flesh cultivars.

2. Plant patents issued for new ornamental peach and disease resistant clonal rootstock. New cultivars are critical to the growth and development of horticultural industries. A plant patent (USPP 23,443) was granted on March 5, 2013 for, ‘Candy Cane’, a new ornamental peach variety that was developed by the Byron program. ‘Candy Cane’ provides a unique bi-color floral display for use in gardens and arboretums. A plant patent (USPP 23,583) was granted on May 7, 2013 for, ‘MP-29’, a new interspecific plum x peach hybrid rootstock for use with peach varieties that was co-developed by the Byron and University of Florida programs. ‘MP-29’ is the first rootstock for peach to combine resistance to peach tree short life, Armillaria root rot and root-knot nematodes.


Review Publications
Beckman, T.G., Chaparro, J.X., Conner, P.J. 2013. GulfSnow Peach. HortScience. 48:126-127.

Baker, K.M., Chaparro, J.X., Beckman, T.G. 2013. Detection of seed dormancy QTL in three F2 families of peach (Prunus persica). Tree Genetics and Genomes. 9(3):659-668.

Yang, N., Reighard, G., Ritchie, D., Okie, W., Gasic, K. 2013. Mapping quantitative trait loci associated with resistance to bacterial spot (Xanthomonas arboricola pv. pruni) in peach. Tree Genetics and Genomes. 9:573-586.

Last Modified: 11/26/2014
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