Raising the standards in breeding apricots at MAS.PES, Italy
MAS.PES (https://sites.unimi.it/maspes/) is a stone fruit breeding project (mainly apricots, Prunus armeniaca L., and peaches, P. persica L. (Batch)) based in northern Italy, co-funded by growers, nurseries and the University of Milan (Università degli Studi di Milano). Although since more than 20 years the market has been filled by tens of new apricots issued mainly by European breeders, from the private sector in most cases, the inner quality of the fruit is still rather low, due to several, concurrent reasons. In the first place, a wrong longstanding attitude of growers and retailers in addressing the consumers by highlighting external characters (e.g. fruit size, skin over color, flesh firmness) almost neglecting the sensory traits (sugars, acid-sugars ratio, aromatic profile). Secondly, overloading the market with insufficiently ripe apricots, just to extend the shelf life and avoid as much as possible the losses along the distribution chain. MAS.PES project has been introducing apricot and peach cultivars always addressing inner fruit quality as first criteria of selection, whereas all the other field and external traits are coming afterword. Among the next novelties three apricots are in the frontline to be patented very soon (in ripening order): Ariel® (95 days from full bloom), Leda® (89 days from full bloom) and Alissa® (102 days from full bloom). All of them are self-fertile (the second selection criteria at MAS.PES). While Alissa is PPV (M strain) resistant (under artificial infection and PCR check), for the other two the PPV-resistance tests are underway, and both are bearing the markers for the resistance locus (PPVRes-ZP002). All three are featuring a fruit with a nice bright 30-40% red overcolor over a deep orange skin background, a firm but juicy flesh, a very good apricot flavor and aroma. Patenting under European regulations are underway and the distribution strategy will soon be decided.
Bassi, D. and Foschi, S. (2020). Raising the standards in breeding apricots at MAS.PES, Italy. Acta Hortic. 1290, 27-30
MAS, Prunus armeniaca L., selection strategies