Peach cultivar releases and fruit trait distribution in the USDA-ARS Byron program
Conventional plant breeding is often daunting and costly, but it has a long history of success and remains predominant in today's crop improvement programs. Success depends on optimal combination of parents to produce sufficient hybrids, and comprehensive evaluation of the hybrids to select potential new cultivars. Decades of effort in the USDA-ARS stone fruit breeding program at Byron, Georgia have led to release of dozens of peach cultivars and to generation of valuable mass evaluation data on peach fruit. In this report, all the peach cultivars released from the breeding program were summarized to provide an overview of the history and trend of cultivar improvement. The reorganized peach fruit evaluation data were also used for statistical analysis to understand fruit trait distribution and selection tendency in the program. A normal distribution was observed for ripe date and fruit size. Other traits, including fruit set, external blush, attractiveness, firmness, and freeness of pit, showed an uneven distribution toward the desired direction, which was expected since data was rarely taken on discarded hybrids. Correlations were also found between some of the evaluated fruit traits. This summary of cultivars and peach fruit evaluation data should be of value and inspiration for the stone fruit breeding community.
Chen, C. (2021). Peach cultivar releases and fruit trait distribution in the USDA-ARS Byron program. Acta Hortic. 1304, 29-36
Prunus persica, conventional breeding, sexual hybridization, inheritability