Good Fruit Grower

December 2011

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Vineland launches an apple breeding program Daryl Somers A Canadians seek export quality apples. by Richard Lehnert new apple breeding program was born this year, on the Niagara Peninsula in Ontario, Canada. While operation of the infant program is just beginning, it has nurturing parents. The Ontario Apple Growers are backing the pro- gram; they want new varieties that potentially could be produced for export in Ontario, which now is a net importer of apples. The Vineland Research and Innovation Not only do they want to find desirable parents and breed new apples, they While fruit consumption in Ontario is increasing, Centre is a partner. This aggressive, new non- profit organization, created in 2006, has the mission of fostering horticultural technology and assuring new products come to market. Its research director for applied genomics is Dr. Daryl Somers, a molecular biologist and geneticist. It also has a "technology scout," Michael Kauzlaric, and the two, working together, are exploring germ plasm options from around the world. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is also a partner. It has a pear breeding Ontario producers' market share is declining. have discussed collaboration with other apple-breeding programs at Cornell, University of Minnesota, Washington State University, and the Purdue-Rut- gers-Illinois cooperative program to test vari- eties under development in those programs. The three in the Northeast, especially, share a general vision of what's needed in apples— resistance to diseases like fireblight and apple scab, cold hardiness, grower friendliness, and consumer appeal like that demonstrated by the Minnesota-bred In an interview with Good Fruit Grower, Somers said that one of the key assets of the Vineland Research and Innova- tion Centre is its business development office. While the center has strong backing from Ontario fruit and vegetable growers and the federal and provin- cial governments, it also has a world view. "The Ontario production base is sufficient to support and warrant an apple- program at the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, and Dr. David Hunter, the pear breeder, made the first crosses of apples this spring. breeding program," Somers said. "But we have the potential to develop varieties of apples and tender fruits at Vineland that will be useful over a wide area." 38 DECEMBER 2011 GOOD FRUIT GROWER

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