Despite the hundreds of existing stone fruit (Prunus spp.) cultivars used for fresh market, there is a continuing need to develop new stone fruit cultivars as the requirements of the industry change. Over the last 20 years there has been a shift toward private breeding as the public sector decreases its support of these long-range programs. As a result there are fewer public breeding programs and many of those still operating protect their releases and partially fund their programs with royalty payments. Other trends that are shaping the development of new stone fruit cultivars are a need for smaller or more easily managed tree architecture, a trend toward the use of fewer agricultural chemicals, the expansion of production zones into the milder winter zones to allow year-round availability of stone fruit, a general diversification of fruit types being marketed, the increased awareness of the health benefits of fruit consumption, the need for better and more consistent quality, and given the global marketing of these fruit the increased need for enhanced postharvest qualities. The breeding programs of the world are responding to these trends and working toward developing the cultivars for the world markets of the future.
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