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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Byron, Georgia » Fruit and Tree Nut Research » Research » Research Project #445288

Research Project: Genetic Improvement of Stone Fruit Crops/Cultivars for the Southeastern United States

Location: Fruit and Tree Nut Research

Project Number: 6042-21000-006-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: May 9, 2023
End Date: May 8, 2028

1.Breed new peach cultivars with desired fruit characteristics and horticultural traits such as tolerance to spring frost and winter chilling inadequacy, and resistance to diseases to improve peach production in the Southeastern United States. 1A. Breed new high-chill peach cultivars for the main season industries in the Southeastern United States. 1B. Breed new moderate-chill peach cultivars for the lower coastal plain in the Southeastern United. 2.Breed new peach rootstocks with resistance or tolerance to significant biotic and abiotic stresses such as soil-borne diseases peach tree short life (PTSL) and Armillaria root rot (ARR), and pests such as root-knot nematodes to improve peach production in the Southeastern United States.

New improved cultivars will be developed to address key challenges such as unreliable cropping due to vulnerability to suboptimal climatic conditions and diseases, or to replace those becoming obsolete, incurring extra management costs or having unsustainable production issues. Cultivar development will continue toward improved fruit size, attractiveness, uniformity, firmness, eating quality, increased soluble solid contents, and extended harvest seasons. Parents with slow ripening fruit flesh and labor-saving tree architecture traits will be used to develop new cultivars that allow more consistent harvests with conduciveness to packing and shipping and help mitigate emerging labor shortage concerns. These superior selections will then be named and released for use by the commercial peach industry. Rootstock development will build on ‘Guardian’, ‘MP-29’ and ‘P-22’ by improving resistance to peach tree short life, Armillaria root rot and root-knot nematodes and expanding the range of scion vigor control that is more dwarfing than ‘MP-29’ or between ‘MP-29’ and ‘Guardian’ or ‘P-22’. This will be accomplished by utilizing identified resistant lines. Typically, interspecific hybrids within Prunus exhibit a substantially wider range of vigor than is possible with pure peach hybrids. Extensive field testing will be utilized to identify those hybrids which have the requisite combination of disease resistance and horticultural traits for successful commercial utilization the southeastern U.S. peach industry. Best selections will be released for commercial utilization.