Good Fruit Grower

November 2011

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ON A FasTrack F Fruit breeders have a clever new tool to speed up the process. by Richard Lehnert asTrack is the name of a new plant breeding process developed by U.S. Department of Agricul- ture researchers. It uses genetic engineering technology to greatly speed up the breeding process, but the final products are not Genetically Modified Organisms. The exotic gene that lends speed to the process is removed in the final stage of the breeding process. FasTrack was created by a research team at the Appalachian Fruit Research Station in Kearneysville, West Virginia. Led by horticulturist Dr. Ralph Scorza, it includes plant physiologist and tissue culture spe- cialist Dr. Chinnathambi Srinivasan, geneticist Dr. Ann Callahan, and molecular biologist Dr. Christopher Dardick. It's now being used primarily in plum breeding, but could be "This is a very powerful adapted to other plants, and is most valuable in tree fruits where the breeding process takes so long. In an interview with Good Fruit Grower, Scorza said that "FasTrack doesn't change what plant breed- technology." —Ralph Scorza ers want to do, it just allows them to do it faster." That's important to Scorza, who has spent decades breeding peaches and plums, a very slow process. What has previously taken 15 to 20 years can, using FasTrack, be done in five to ten years, he said. "This is a very powerful technology." Flowers, green fruit, and ripe fruit appear all together on this genetically modified plum tree—and the tree flowers early, at about a year of age. This puts plum breeding on a fast track. The key The key to FasTrack is a gene named PtFT1, often referred to as the ECF gene—ECF standing for early and continual flowering. That gene, which is present in many plants, was taken from a California poplar Avoid the Orchard of No Return Replant disease can take the profit out of any orchard. Soil fumigation services offered by Trident manage replant disease and other soil-borne pathogens. Trident offers custom applications of Telone® C17, Telone C35, and Pic-Clor 60. • Row and broadcast applications available • Specializing in tree fruit, hops, grape, berry, and nursery crops Telone® II, Telone C-17, and Telone C-35 are registered trademarks of Dow AgroSciences LLC. Telone II, Telone C-17, Telone C-35, and Pic-Clor 60 are restricted-use pesticides. Soil Fumigation Specialists Serving the Northwest for 26 years NORTHWEST, WA: Tim Purcell..........Mobile 360-630-4285 EASTERN WASHINGTON: Robert Rauert....Mobile 509-728-2004 EASTERN WASHINGTON: Jason Rainer.......Mobile 509-731-5424 THE DALLES & HOOD RIVER, OR: David Sbur ..........Mobile 971-563-8848 38 NOVEMBER 2011 GOOD FRUIT GROWER ann callahan

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