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  • Author or Editor: Ed Stover x
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The year 2005 marked the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS), repositories devoted to clonally propagated, horticultural fruit and nut crops. During this quarter century, facilities in Hilo, Hawaii; Mayaguez, PR.; Miami, Fla.; and Riverside, Calif. were developed to preserve collections of tropical and subtropical fruit and nut crops; facilities in Brownwood, Texas; Corvallis, Ore.; Davis, Calif. and Geneva, N.Y. preserve the temperate crops. Each of these facilities now has internationally recognized, globally diverse collections of genetic resources for their assigned genera. Germplasm of unique genotypes are maintained as growing plants, evaluated for phenotypic and genotypic traits, documented in a national public germplasm database, and freely distributed as clonal propaggules to researchers and other germplasm users around the world. Seed collections represent wild populations for some crop relatives. These 8 genebanks maintain 30,000 accessions representing 1600 species of fruit and nut crops and their wild relatives. The genebanks distribute more than 15,000 accessions annually to international researchers. Although originally conceived as working collections for crop improvement, NPGS genebanks have also become invaluable in providing the raw materials for basic plant genetic research, reservoirs for rare or endangered species or vulnerable landraces, archives of historic cultivars, and field classrooms for educating the public. These collections preserve botanical treasures as well as the American horticultural heritage for now and for future generations.

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Avocado (Persea americana Mill.) is a high-value fruit that continues to increase in consumer demand. A population of ‘Hass’–‘Bacon’ hybrids was planted at USDA-ARS, Fort Pierce, as part of a study to find selections with good horticultural and postharvest quality traits for Florida. Extensive phenotypic data on quality were collected over 3 years. Ten selections were identified in 2014 and 2015 with promising fruit quality and postharvest shelf life characteristics and were tested in sensory panels using store-bought ‘Hass’ as the standard. In general, the selections had fruit quality similar to commercial ‘Hass’. Avocados that were most liked were described as creamy in texture with buttery and nutty flavor. Only one selection (R7T54 in 2014) and one store-bought control (‘Hass’ in 2015) were disliked, which was associated with greater firmness at the time of evaluation, likely relating to insufficient postharvest conditioning. Furthermore, CA ‘Hass’ commercial requirements for minimum dry matter (20.8%) were generally achieved by these selections under Florida conditions, ranging from 18.4% to 25.7%. This study identified 10 selections with composition and sensory quality similar to ‘Hass’ that are suitable for further testing and development in Florida.

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