Fruit set in sweet (Prunus avium L.) and sour cherry (P. cerasus L.) is frequently less than adequate for profitable production despite the availability of compatible pollen and abundant flowers. When fruit set consistently falls below acceptable levels, growers may attempt to increase fruit set by increasing the availability of compatible pollen. We describe the use of the self-incompatibility locus (S-locus) as a genetic marker to quantify the relative contributions of competing pollen sources in achieving fruit set in ‘Balaton™’ sour cherry. Pollen race experiments were conducted to determine if nonself-pollen provided in a pollen mixture was more competitive than self-pollen in achieving fruit set in ‘Balaton™’. We further investigated what pollen set the ‘Balaton™’ crop in two commercial ‘Balaton™’ orchards where multiple potential pollinators were planted in adjacent orchards. S-allele genotyping using DNA extracted from the seed was done to discriminate among the competing pollen sources. The results suggest that in certain environmental conditions, nonself-pollen may be more competitive in achieving fruit set in ‘Balaton™’ than self-pollen. These examples illustrate how seed genotyping can be used to further our understanding of the competitive abilities of different pollen sources in both controlled experiments and production orchards.
Developing new cherry cultivars requires breeders to be aware of existing and emerging needs throughout the supply chain, from producer to consumer. Because breeding programs in perennial crop plants like sweet and tart cherries require both extended time and extensive resources, understanding and targeting priority traits is critical to improve the efficiency of breeding programs. This study investigated the relative importance of fruit and tree traits to sweet and tart cherry producers using ordered probit models. Tart cherry producers considered productivity and fruit firmness to be the most important traits, whereas sweet cherry producers regarded fruit size, fruit flavor, fruit firmness, freedom from pitting, and powdery mildew resistance as important traits. The location of producers’ orchards and their demographic backgrounds influenced their perceptions of the importance of traits. Our findings provide a quantitative basis to reinforce existing priorities of breeding programs or suggest new targets.
Systematic studies of the relative importance of apple traits for U.S. apple producers to inform U.S. apple breeding programs have been lacking. To fill this gap, a series of audience surveys with instant feedback at five apple producer meetings across the United States was conducted. The traits included in this study were fruit crispness, juiciness, firmness, flavor, soluble solids concentration, sugar–acid balance, shelf life at retail, freedom from storage disorders, host plant disease resistance, and other fruit and tree traits provided by the producer. Producers rated fruit flavor and crispness as the most important traits for a successful apple cultivar. The relative importance assigned to traits was associated with growing location and producers’ years of experience in the decision-making process of managing apple orchards. This study contributes directly to a larger effort that provides breeding programs with systematic knowledge of trait preferences of supply chain members, including producers, and should result in a more targeted approach to developing and commercializing new apple cultivars.
The primary goal of this research was to evaluate the relative importance of strawberry fruit quality and plant traits to strawberry producers. Previous studies focus on strawberry traits that impact postharvest quality and marketable yield; however, studies emphasizing the importance of these traits to strawberry producers are scarce. To investigate U.S. strawberry producer trait preferences, a series of audience surveys were conducted at four strawberry producer meetings across the United States. Results indicate that fruit firmness, fruit flavor, and fruit shelf life at retail were the most important fruit/plant traits to producers for a successful strawberry cultivar to possess. Growing state and producers’ years involved in the decision-making process of strawberry farms impacted the relative importance of the fruit/plant traits. This study directly contributes to a larger investigation of supply chain members’ trait preferences to improve the efficiency of Rosaceae fruit crop breeding programs and to increase the likelihood of new cultivar adoption. The overall project should result in a more efficient approach to new strawberry cultivar development and commercialization.