Efforts to Produce Novel Varieties & Train New Breeders
Efforts to Produce Novel Varieties & Train New Breeders
A new effort to provide California growers with seeds for tomato, bean, pepper and other crop varieties that are specially bred for organic farming has been launched at UC Davis. The organic plant-breeding project was developed in direct response to California organic growers, who have reported that the scarcity of seeds for cultivars that meet the needs of organic farming can seriously impact a farm’s bottom line.
“Seeds bred to account for the difference between growing organically and conventionally could improve farm yields and marketing potential for produce, yet organic seeds available to farmers are rarely developed with these organic management considerations in mind,” said Charlie Brummer, director of the UC Davis Plant Breeding Center and coordinator of the new organic breeding project.
The new breeding effort, funded at just under $1 million by the Organic Research and Extension Initiative of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will develop new cultivars on certified organic land at the Student Farm, a program of the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis. Breeding programs will be led by graduate students as part of their hands-on training to be plant breeders.
“When we started the Plant Breeding Center in 2014, we wanted to give our plant-breeding students experience with real cultivar development projects that would result in products that growers and seed producers would want,” Brummer said. “This project lets us put those pieces together in a very meaningful and exciting way.”
He noted that there are myriad genetic traits that apply specifically to organic agriculture. For example, because organic farmers tend to rely on nonchemical methods to control pests and supply nutrients, natural resistance to pests and adaptability to organic soil conditions are important traits for crops grown organically. And increasingly, organic growers also need crop varieties that meet specific market niches, to clearly differentiate their products.
Partnering with organic growers
UC Davis has a long history of plant-breeding projects, but few have focused on organic seed or vegetable production until now.
“I see this as a real opportunity to build bridges between UC Davis breeding programs and organic farmers, which I anticipate will grow well beyond this project,” says Jared Zystro, assistant director of research and education at Organic Seed Alliance, an industry partner on the project. “One of the great things about partnership with the university is the expertise that breeders bring in their particular crops. That expertise is coupled with the thinking about how to efficiently execute the breeding process.”
Opportunities for students and community
UC Davis graduate students will be taught the breeding process to help prepare them for plant-breeding careers. Student breeders will work at the Student Farm, a farm-scale campus facility with 35 years of field-based teaching and research on organic farming. They also will collaborate with farmers and the organic seed industry to understand specific breeding needs and conduct on-farm trials to determine if potential cultivars have merit.
“This project is exciting because of its focus on actually trying to release cultivars,” says Zystro, a plant breeder himself. “That’s an experience that graduate students rarely get in their educations.”
Mark Van Horn, director of the Student Farm, said that in addition to training graduate students, the new project would showcase organic breeding to the surrounding community.
“Over the course of the project’s four years, thousands of grade-school students will visit the Student Farm and be exposed to the importance of organic crop breeding,” he said.
Oregon Strawberry Growers Annual Meeting, Feb. 18
Oregon Strawberry Annual Growers Meeting
Thursday, February 18, 2016
North Willamette Research & Extension Center
15210 NE Miley Rd, Aurora, OR 97002
9:00 – 9:15 - Matt Unger Chair, OSC
· Introduction and Overview of the Activities of the Oregon Strawberry Commission
9:15 – 9:30 - Joe DeFrancesco, OSU
· Strawberry Pesticide Registration, Tracking, and New Chemistries
9:30 – 10:00 - Bernadine Strik, OSU & Chad Finn, USDA-ARS
· Cooperative Breeding Program – Strawberries
10:00 – 10:15 Bernadine Strik & Patrick Jones, OSU
· Targeted applications of “foliar” calcium fertilizers to fruit to increase fruit firmness and shelf-life for fresh market
10:15 – 10:30 - Brian Yorgey, OSU
· Evaluation of Processing Quality of Advanced Strawberry Breeding Program
10:30 – 10:45 - Break & Door Prizes
10:45 – 11:00 - Darcy Kochis, Food First Marketing
· Oregon Berry Festival Report
11:00 – 11:15 - Stephanie Page, Oregon Department of Agriculture
PMA comments to USDA, HHS in support of 2015 Dietary Guidelines
PMA comments to USDA, HHS in support of 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s recommendations for increasing fruit and vegetable consumption
Responding to the Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, Produce Marketing Association (PMA) submitted written comments to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) supporting the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s (DGAC) call for a multi-component, collaborative approach to increasing fruit and vegetable consumption. Among its 10 specific recommendations, PMA also backed the advisory report’s conclusion for the need to lower Americans’ risk of cancer, heart disease and other illness by encouraging consumers to eat whole foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, rather than vitamin or mineral supplements. Read the full comments on PMA’s website.
“While the DGAC report is not a draft of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans policy, it does form the basis for federal health guidance and feeding programs,” said Kathy Means, PMA vice president of industry relations. “In combination with PMA and member activities, DGAC’s recommendations create a favorable climate for significant growth in fresh produce consumption and sales.”
PMA applauds the committee’s conclusion that new dietary recommendations must meet consumers where they are in terms of cultural and personal food preferences and must also emphasize the role the food environment and public policies play in the ability of Americans to follow dietary guidance. PMA agrees with DGAC that additional measures from a wide range of stakeholders are needed to drive consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables.
“Our comments acknowledge industry’s responsibility in a multi-component, collaborative approach to make healthy lifestyles and disease prevention top priorities,” said Kevin Fiori, PMA board of directors chair and vice president of sales and marketing for Sunkist Growers. “We also point out the produce industry’s already taking a leadership role by marketing fruits and vegetables differently, as demonstrated through PMA’s support of the eat brighter!™ movement and the FNV program.”
The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) will publish later this year. While the MyPlate graphic will undergo review, experts anticipate it will remain the visual nutrition guide. When PMA board of directors established Issues Leadership as one of the four pillars resulting from PMA Strategic Plan 2.0, nutrition was identified as a key area of focus. PMA’s ongoing participation in the DGA development process aligns with this charge to support issues that build consumer demand and reduce barriers to consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables.
About Produce Marketing Association (PMA)
Produce Marketing Association is the leading trade association representing companies from every segment of the global produce and floral supply chain. PMA helps members grow by providing connections that expand business opportunities and increase sales and consumption. For more information, visit www.pma.com.
UC Strawberry improvement Program Releases Three New Cultivars
The UC Strawberry Improvement Program released three new, short-day cultivars: Petaluma, Grenada, and Fronteras. These cultivars are good for early fall planting and winter production and produce high yields. These cultivars are developed from crosses made in 2008 and have better fruit quality than Ventana and Benicia.
Petaluma has moderate plant vigor, compact plant size and good disease resistance profile. Fruit has very good flavor. Grenada has moderate to high plant vigor. Very early fruit load keeps the plant small early in the season. Large, firm fruit with excellent flavor. Disease resistance is variable and is susceptible to Fusarium oxysporum. Fronteras has high plant vigor with an upright plant structure. Fruit is large and firm with excellent flavor. It has good disease resistant profile.
NMSU Experts Expect Little Impact from Chile-Damaging Virus
NMSU Experts Expect Little Impact this Year from Chile-Damaging Virus
By Angela Simental, firstname.lastname@example.org
As chile production season approaches, three New Mexico State University professors say the danger of curly top virus is higher than last year, but still in the low percentage range.
The prediction for this year is that it is going to be a low year for curly top, said Rebecca Creamer, professor of plant virology, who has been researching the virus since 2001. We didnt have large amounts of fall rains, so it will be in the 1 to 5 percent range. Most growers will not have a major problem.
This tri-trophic disease, which affects mostly chile plants in New Mexico, has required NMSU researchers in different disciplines to work together to investigate the different aspects and cycles of this disease, including the biology of the leafhopper, biology of weeds and virology.
We need an integrated approach to research this virus, Creamer said. We have been trying to work out the parameters of where the insects are living and the ecology because that has a huge influence on the virus being transmitted.
Curly top virus is transmitted from the tiny beet leafhopper insect, which feeds on weeds and certain crop plants such as chile and tomato, passing the disease from weeds to crops.
The virus is a prevalent problem in arid regions such as California, New Mexico, Arizona, Washington State and other places around the world including Mexico and Iran.
The insect, in its immature stages, is practically confined to one plant, but as it grows and becomes an adult, it becomes mobile and begins colonizing new areas, said Scott Bundy, professor of entomology, who studies the biology of the insect.
The leafhopper has a different color for different times of the year. In the spring it is light green and as fall approaches, it becomes brown.
The greatest danger of curly top, Creamer said, lies in the weeds near crops because in southern New Mexico, the virus primarily lives on weeds.
I always tell growers that they should be aware of their weed populations because if we know the weeds are going to be good hosts to the leafhopper and the virus, we suggest they try to remove them, Creamer said.
Even though the virus is more prevalent as weather gets warmer, the problem exists year-round mainly because of the presence of kochia weeds, which grow in the summer time, and London rocket, which grows with moisture during colder weather. These weeds make excellent hosts for the leafhopper and the virus.
When the chile plants are infected, they become yellow, the leaves roll up and growth is stalled. The plant also becomes extremely stiff and it will not produce fruit.
The weeds, the virus and the insects have grown together, said Jill Schoeder, professor of weed science, who researches the biology of weeds. Unfortunately, the infected weeds do not show any damage from the virus so we have no way to tell which weeds are infected. It is impractical to think that we can control every weedy plant, but if we can understand where they are the biggest threat to our crop system, maybe we can do targeted weed management for growers and backyard gardeners.
In 2001, 2003 and 2005 the chile industry had huge economic losses due to curly top virus, Creamer said.
Chile is a major crop in our region, so when plants are infected, it can cause significant economic damage, Schroeder said. Every year local gardeners and community gardens are also devastated from infection from this virus.