2012 Annual Report
1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
Organize a tree fruit rootstock conference that brings together multidisciplinary researchers and a large group of industry representatives including nurseries and growers to identify, prioritize research objectives and assess potential impact on profitability of the tree fruit industry and rural development.
1b.Approach (from AD-416):
During the coordinating committee meeting at the annual meeting of the American Society of Horticultural Sciences in August 2010 at Palm Desert, CA and additional advisory panel meetings with industry representatives in UT, WA, MI and PA we consolidated some of the rootstock industry research needs and began developing a white paper on the current status of rootstock research. The group of industry advisors and researchers have united under the name Root2Fruit to advance rootstock research to improve profitability and sustainability of the fruit industry. These coordinating meetings have been used to plan and organize a larger industry wide conference on rootstock research at the annual meeting of the International Fruit Tree Association (IFTA) in Feb 2011 in the Tri-Cities of Washington State. The meeting held in conjunction with IFTA will address a wide audience of U.S. temperate tree fruit growers and connect researchers with industry needs. IFTA then will serve as a nexus for disseminating knowledge about the Root2Fruit effort through its website and the Compact Fruit Tree scientific publication.
We organized a one-day (March 2, 2011) tree fruit rootstock conference in collaboration with the International Fruit Tree Association (www.ifruittree.org) that brought together multidisciplinary researchers and a large group of industry representatives, including nurseries and growers, to identify and prioritize research objectives, and assess the potential impact of proposed research on the profitability of the tree fruit industry as well as rural community development. These meetings were attended by a combination of nursery owners/operators, tree fruit growers, variety managers, marketers, fruit packers, researchers, extension specialists, farm managers and consultants working on all aspects of temperate tree fruit production. The priority setting session featured a town hall meeting model where state-of-the-art tree fruit research was presented to attendees by leading U.S. researchers, followed by a discussion opportunity that utilized real-time wireless survey technology to prioritize research to be addressed. These priorities (summarized below) are being distilled into articles for Compact Fruit Tree (the educational publication of the IFTA) which will reach a wide industry audience. In addition, several trade newspaper articles have featured this research planning effort. Research priorities identified by this diverse group were: propagation (efficiency, techniques, acclimatization, germplasm, source material), sustainability (labor ergonomics and production efficiencies), integration into management systems (training systems, integrated pest management systems), and root and soil interactions (replant problems, microbial interactions, nutrient and water uptake efficiency) were key priorities identified by the group.
As a result of the focus group efforts and the IFTA stakeholder-researcher conference, a novel network of rootstock researchers that includes economists, social scientists, tree fruit physiologists, root-soil interface researchers, propagation specialists, plant pathologists, plant genomicists, and plant breeders is preparing a grant proposal for the 2013 NIFA-SCRI program to address the rootstock needs and priorities identified and supported by the U.S. temperate tree fruit industries.