Researchers Take a Look into the Future of Strawberries

Survey Coming to Growers to Gauge Interests

By Hannah Young, Associate Editor

A strawberries survey connected to a project that looks at the future of strawberry genetics will soon be sent to strawberry growers.

Daniel Tregeagle, a postdoctoral scholar of agricultural economics at UC Davis, is working on the survey.

“This project is being run over the state of California, through a number of different institutions, different universities, including the state of Florida,” Tregeagle said. “Strawberry growers all over the country are trying to find out what we should be breeding in the next generation of strawberry cultivars.”Strawberries

The project is part of a Specialty Crop Research Initiative, which is considering what growers are looking for in the next generation of strawberries, Tregeagle said.

“Do they want better yields? Do they want more attractive features that the consumers are going to like? Do they need disease resistance?” Tregeagle asked.

However, growers can’t have everything, because when a cultivar is strong in one area, they tend to be less strong in other areas.

“So what we’re doing in the survey is asking growers what are the main diseases that they’re facing, how are they managing those diseases currently and what would they do differently if they had a better, more resistant strawberry cultivar that could resist those particular diseases,” Tregeagle explained.

Researchers are also interested in looking at fumigation and how they might change in the presence of a more resistance cultivar, Tregeagle added.

Health Benefits of Pomegranates

Dong Wang on Health Benefits of Pomegranates

By Charmayne Hefley, Associate Editor

 

As the demand for healthy food items increases, farmers are choosing from among a larger diversity of crops to grow. Dong Wang, research leader with the United States Department of Agriculture Research Service in Parlier, spoke at the 2015 UC Kearney Ag Research and Extension Center (KARE) & USDA-ARS Pomegranate Field Day last week.

Wang said “the International Society of Horticultural Sciences[1] organized a conference in 2013 on pomegranates and other minor fruits. Attendees from about 20 countries presented their pomegranate research findings on crop production, yield, quality, and genetic aspects of different species, including cultivars. They also presented findings relating to health benefits and the biochemistry of pomegranate products.”

Researchers and experts in California and around the world continue to explore producing a plant variety with the genetic potential for higher yield. And while increased marketable yield is important, Wang said researching pomegranate health benefits and phenolics—compounds with antioxidant propertiesmay be more beneficial than the absolute yield, “so people are researching multiple aspects of the topic.”

Dong Wang, research leader with the USDA-Agriculture Research Service in Parlier
Dong Wang, research leader with the USDA-Agriculture Research Service in Parlier

While the U.S. has a relatively small market for fresh pomegranates, pomegranate juice and secondary products, which are more common in the U.S., help to increase the fruit’s marketable yield. Wang explained some Americans eat fresh arils atop salads and other dishes, but those not-so-perfect on-the-surface pomegranates will still be desirable for the fresh market because they still contain beneficial compounds when processed. This research on phenolics, vitamins, and other compounds found in the fruit has been performed not only on the juice and the arils, but also in high-concentrate peels.

The International Society of Horticultural Sciences organized a conference in 2013 on pomegranates and other minor fruits. Conference attendees from about 20 countries presented their pomegranate research findings on crop production, yield, quality, and genetic aspects of different species, including cultivars. They also presented findings relating to health benefits and the biochemistry of pomegranate products.”

As a result of the 2013 International Society of Horticultural Sciences Conference in 2013 on pomegranates, Wang co-authored a proceedings book published by the International Society of Horticultural Sciences in July 2015. Co-written with Zhaohe Yuan, Nanjing Forestry University and Erik Wilkins, Paramount Farming Company, the volume, “Proceedings of the Third International Symposium on Pomegranate and Minor Mediterranean Fruits,” covers the following major areas of research and state-of-the-art technology: Physiology and Biochemistry, Secondary Metabolism and Human Health, Integrated Pest Management and Disease Control, Marketing and Economics, Genetic Resources and Breeding, Cultivation Techniques, and Post-harvest Technology. According to the USDA, “The book serves as the largest collection of the most current knowledge on pomegranate science and technology in the world.”[2]

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[1] International Society of Horticultural Sciences

[2] USDA ARS