Submitted to: HortScience
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/8/1997
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: Interpretive Summary: A germplasm collection trip was undertaken to collect the ancient land race of strawberry called Huachi and assess the strawberry industry in Ecuador. We traveled to Ecuador and with the help of the growers in Huachi Grande successfully collected this extremely valuable genotypes. Huachi has been renowned for its flavor, aroma, firmness and adaptation to dry soils. We worked with the community of growers to establish research plots designed to examine soil treatments that might increase production. We also held a field day to teach the community about plant breeding. In addition to our efforts in Huachi Grande, we visited modern production fields where California cultivars and production practices have largely replaced the native land-races. Production of Huachi has decreased from 500- 800 hectares in the 1930's to less than 5 hectares. With cooperative efforts in North America we hope to develop strawberries that will have the fruit characteristics of Huachi and the production capacity of California cultivars. In addition, we hope the germplasm collected will help expand the adaptation and productivity of North American cultivars.
Technical Abstract: The Huachi strawberry of Ecuador is a remarkable land race of Fragaria chiloensis. The Spaniards brought F. chiloensis from Chile when they conquered Ecuador in the 1700's. The Huachi strawberry, developed from these plants, was eventually produced on 500-800 ha in Huachi Grande. This pink-fruited, long wedge-shaped strawberry was prized for its firmness, flavor, aroma, and shipping quality. Fruit were produced year round on plants growing on volcanic, sandy soils in a very dry environment. Plant explorers in the early part of this century documented the production of the Huachi and brought it to North America. Selections from populations derived from Huachi were red stele resistant and were utilized in the development of several cultivars. Other than this limited utilization, Huachi is not widely represented in breeding germplasm. We returned to Ecuador to recollect Huachi and assess the industry there. Huachi is still grown although there are now only 4-5 ha in commercial production. Droughts in the 1970's, tired soils, and the introduction of the more productive and easier to produce California cultivars, grown using California production systems, have largely replaced the historical production of Huachi. The Huachi growers are very interested in continuing production if they can increase its profitability. Research plots were established by the growers, with our input, to determine whether production could be increased with soil amendments. In addition, seedlings of crosses between Huachi and N. American cultivars will be sent to Ecuador. This exchange of germplasm for scientific expertise serves as a model approach to prevent the loss of access to valuable germplasm.