Submitted to: LABEX
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: December 19, 2007
Publication Date: March 7, 2007
Citation: Lewers, K.S. 2007. Usda-ars and embrapa scientists build bridges with strawberries. LABEX, Sept. 06 - Feb. 07 issue, page 2.
At the '3rd Simposio Nacional do Morango'and '2nd Encontro de Pequenas Frutas e Frutas Nativas do Mercosul' at Pelotas, Rio Grande Do Sul, Brazil, held 7 - 10 November 2006, I was invited to describe strawberry breeding in the United States and also my own USDA-ARS strawberry breeding program at Beltsville, Maryland. The timing was perfect, as it allowed me to see strawberry production in the area around Pelotas near the peak of their harvest season. As part of the meeting, there was a tour of local production that allowed me to evaluate the quality of fruit grown there on cultivars I have seen growing in the U.S. The cultivars grown there are all from California and performed better near Pelotas than they do in Maryland. While at the meeting, I was fortunate to meet with several EMBRAPA scientists working with strawberry. I was impressed that EMBRAPA has created positions for nearly all aspects necessary for the development of a strong research program for strawberry: a breeder, a horticulturalist, two pathologists, a food chemist, a specialist in safe production methods, and a post-harvest specialist. With this kind of agency support they are sure to succeed. Outside the meeting I visited with these scientists and learned they are highly motivated to collaborate on all aspects of successful strawberry production and marketing from the region. They are arranging regular meetings to facilitate the collaborations. In addition, they are arranging meetings to strengthen interaction between themselves and the strawberry growers to identify current and developing needs for their strawberry industry. I described annual meetings among ARS and university fruit scientists that are designed to share ideas for new research and establish collaborations, our NCCC-22 meetings. I described ways the USDA-ARS obtains feedback from our industry customers through our ARS National Program meetings and how we try to use that information to direct our research through the five-year CRIS project development process. And I described the new U.S. industry-based National Berry Crop Initiative, of which I am a steering committee member, and how it hopes to benefit and receive benefit from US berry scientists. I also helped Dr. Juliana Degenhardt, the new EMBRAPA strawberry breeder at Pelotas, develop a list of US cultivars and wild germplasm from US regions with similar environments that should be useful as parental material to start her project. Currently, their growers are using patented California cultivars, unavailable for breeding. The environment near Pelotas is similar to that of some parts of coastal California but also to that of coastal North Carolina, so I expect that over the years, and exchange of germplasm between our two projects would be valuable to both of us, as North Carolina germplasm has been valuable to the Beltsville project for many years as a source of firm fruit and other important traits. Dr. Juliana Degenhardt hopes to visit our strawberry breeding project here in late May at the peak of fruiting to learn how we grow and evaluate seedlings and selections, and I hope to return to Pelotas some day to see how the strawberry program is developing.