Breeding programme focused on growing in hot climates evolves

The world’s only breeding programme focused on apples and pears for hot climates has a fresh new look.

The Hot Climate Partnership, previously the Hot Climate Programme, has a new look to reflect a new phase, with the first apple from the programme – ‘HOT84A1’, branded as Tutti™ – launched on the global marketplace.

The Hot Climate Partnership is a collaboration between Plant & Food Research in New Zealand, Spain’s Institute of ifood Research and Technology (IRTA), the Catalonian fruit producers association FruitFutur, and T&G Global’s genetics and variety management business in New Zealand, VentureFruit™.

Initiated in 2002, the Hot Climate Partnership develops new apple and pear varieties adapted to high temperature growing regions to address issues affecting traditional varieties, such as low red colouring, sunburn, soft fruit texture and higher-than-average incidence of storage disorders.

Scientists from Plant & Food Research and IRTA work together to breed new varieties of apples and pears. The focus is on new varieties that perform well in warmer climates, with fruit that stores well for transportation to markets and has traits desired by consumers, such as excellent taste, colour and texture.

These varieties are trialled by FruitFutur in the Iberian Peninsula, then commercialised through VentureFruit™’s network of grower organisations.

David Hughes, CEO of Plant & Food Research, says the Hot Climate Partnership is a unique combination of science and commercial expertise that will provide options for apple and pear growers as they adapt to the effects of climate change.

“Growers need plants that perform well and are resilient in challenging weather, consistently delivering good yields of high quality fruit. Consumers want fruit that looks and tastes good,,” says Mr Hughes.

“By bringing together the science of Plant & Food Research and IRTA, combined with the commercialisation and marketing expertise of VentureFruit™ and FruitFutur, the varieties being developed in the Hot Climate Partnership will meet the needs of the entire apple and pear supply chains.”

Morgan Rogers, VentureFruit™’s General Manager says new hot climate tolerant varieties will add to both local and global fresh fruit supply, from new plants grown in regions facing a warming climate, as well as opening up new regions otherwise excluded from fruit growing.

“The new apple and pear varieties we have in the pipeline, including the newly-released Tutti™, provide growers with long term sustainable solutions against rising temperatures and poor fruit quality,” says Mr Rogers.

“We are very excited to show growers the benefits of our first commercial variety Tutti™, and the other Hot Climate Partnership varieties, which will enable them to produce high quality pipfruit into the future and identify potential new growing regions for apples and pears.

“Grower benefits extend to improved pack outs of marketable fruit and a reduction in waste and harvest costs. For the retailer and consumer this means continuity of supply, consistent quality and great tasting fruit to meet demand.”

Josep Usall, CEO of IRTA, remarks that the success of the Hot Climate Partnership is due to the focus of the programme and the collaboration between the partners.

“The Hot Climate Partnership is the first breeding programme focused on climate,” says Mr Usall.

“Its success is grounded in the strong and long-lasting collaboration between two leading research institutions and a group of committed growers over more than two decades. We first identified the need for new varieties adapted to warm climates in Catalonia, and now, with the expertise of VentureFruit, it’s exciting to be able to make these varieties available globally.”

The Hot Climate Partnership has an established germplasm collection including several generations of apples and pears bred specifically to address key challenges of a warming climate, as well as production, storage and consumer characteristics required for commercial success.

Each year, thousands of seedlings are screened to identify potential new cultivars with the right combination of traits, with selections currently being evaluated at every stage of the development pipeline.

Source: Plant and  Food Research

Author: Bob Edlin

Editor of AgScience Magazine and Editor of the AgScience Blog