Submitted to: Eucarpia Fruit Breeding Symposium
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/16/2007
Publication Date: 9/16/2007
Citation: Ledbetter, C.A. 2007. Apricot variety development in California's San Joaquin Valley. Eucarpia Fruit Breeding and Genetics Symposium. 12th Annual Meeting, Zaragoza, Spain, September 16-20, 2007, (abstracts of meeting not published).
Technical Abstract: Commercial apricot production began in California's mild coastal valleys during the early part of the 20th century. Varieties such as 'Blenheim,' 'Derby,' 'Hemskirke,' 'Moorpark,''Newcastle,''Steward,''Tilton' and 'Wiggins' were all cultivated commercially throughout the growing regions for fresh market, canning and dried fruit production. As California's population increased, growers were forced to move production from the mild coastal valleys to the harsher environment of the San Joaquin Valley where higher summer temperatures made most apricot varieties unsuitable for cultivation. Due to this dramatic change in growing regions, the Agricultural Research Service began breeding improved apricot varieties in 1955, with particular attention being given to pit-burn resistance. 'Perfection' was used extensively in the early rounds of hybridization to impart large fruit size and flesh firmness. 'Castleton' apricot was introduced by ARS in 1963 as an apricot suitable for production in the San Joaquin Valley and being resistant to pit-burn caused by high summer temperatures. 'Patterson' apricot was developed by a private breeder and became available to growers in 1969. This variety's popularity increased steadily due to it being used as both a fresh market and a processing apricot. Today, approximately 60% of California's apricot production is attributed to the 'Patterson' variety. New apricot variety development has continued at ARS, and nine new varieties have been provided to growers since the introduction of 'Castleton.' ARS apricots from the San Joaquin Valley are noted for their firm and dark orange flesh. Central Asian apricot germplasm has been utilized in hybridizations since the early 1990's to enhance sugar content and introduce genetic diversity into the San Joaquin Valley adapted apricots. Through continued breeding efforts, apricot maturation now occurs over a two-month period at a given location.