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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Why Would Be Breed Cacao in Florida?

Authors
item Schnell Ii, Raymond
item Brown, James
item Kuhn, David - FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNI
item Cervantes-Martinez, Cuauhtemoc - UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
item Tondo, Cecile
item Motamayor, Juan Carlos - MASTERFOODS, INC.

Submitted to: Proceedings of Florida State Horticultural Society
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 8, 2005
Publication Date: December 1, 2005
Citation: Schnell II, R.J., Brown, J.S., Kuhn, D.N., Cervantes-Martinez, C.T., Olano, C.T., Motamayor, J. 2005. Why would be breed cacao in Florida?. Proceedings of Florida State Horticultural Society. 118:189-191.

Interpretive Summary: The international cacao breeding project is coordinated by the USDA-ARS lab in Miami, FL where all the molecular maker and data analysis occur. The project was located in Miami due to its proximity to production areas in Central and South America where major crop losses have occurred due to two destructive diseases, witches’ broom and frosty pod. The seed of Theobroma cacao L. is the only source of chocolate and the plant is not grown commercially in the U.S. The U.S. chocolate and confectionary industry is a major consumer of U.S. agricultural commodities. The industry uses over 3 billion pounds of sugar annually, much of it produced in Florida. Over 650 million pounds of milk and milk products, 322 million pounds of peanuts, 43 million pounds of California almonds and 1.7 billion pounds of corn syrup sweeteners are also used. The total value of these U.S. produced commodities is estimated to be over 1.5 billion USD and over 70,000 people are employed in this industry. In 1999, the USDA-ARS, in collaboration with Masterfoods Inc., initiated a project to apply modern molecular genetic techniques to cacao breeding. The objectives were to develop an international Marker-Assisted-Selection (MAS) breeding program focusing on disease resistance. International collaboration and the development of new disease resistant cultivars are ensuring that crop losses are manageable and contributing to a stable supply of cocoa beans for U.S. companies.

Technical Abstract: The U.S. chocolate and confectionary industry is a major consumer of U.S. agricultural commodities. The industry uses over 3 billion pounds of sugar annually, much of it produced in Florida. Over 650 million pounds of milk and milk products, 322 million pounds of peanuts, 43 million pounds of California almonds and 1.7 billion pounds of corn syrup sweeteners are also used. The total value of these U.S. produced commodities is estimated to be over 1.5 billion USD and over 70,000 people are employed in this industry. The seed of Theobroma cacao L. is the only source of chocolate and the plant is not grown commercially in the U.S. Production of cacao in tropical America has been severely affected by two fungal pathogens causing diseases known as witches’ broom (WB) and frosty pod (FP). These, along with another pan-tropical fungal disease, black pod (BP), were responsible for over 700 million USD in losses in 2001. Currently, WB and FP are confined to Central and South America; however, commercial populations in West Africa and South Asia are highly susceptible to both diseases. Traditional cacao breeding programs have only been marginally successful in producing resistant material with suitable commercial characteristics. In 1999, the USDA-ARS, in collaboration with Masterfoods Inc., initiated a project to apply modern molecular genetic techniques to cacao breeding. The objectives were to develop an international Marker-Assisted-Selection (MAS) breeding program focusing on disease resistance. International collaboration and the development of new disease resistant cultivars are ensuring that crop losses are manageable and contributing to a stable supply of cocoa beans for U.S. companies.

Last Modified: 7/24/2014
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