Tailoring Goldfinger for improved market prospects
Globally, there is an increased focus on reducing environmentally harmful anthropogenic activities. More people are becoming conscious about their consumption habits and opting to purchase produce grown in less environmentally-taxing cropping systems (such as organic or agroecological). Likewise, governments and regulatory bodies are restricting and deregistering chemicals which are unmanageably hazardous. The limited genetic diversity of Cavendish bananas, coupled with large-scale monoculture plantations, provides a production system that is particularly susceptible to pest and disease incursions which require significant amounts of chemicals to control. The production of organic bananas would be greatly facilitated if the cultivar grown had genetic resistance to the major disease threats, such as Sigatoka leaf diseases and Fusarium wilt. Organic bananas grown for export only represents about 1% of total production area, however, the launch of the black Sigatoka resistant Pointe dOr cultivar by Carrefour in 2020 was marketed as a revolution in the organic banana trade. This new cultivar has resistance to black Sigatoka while offering consumers an alternative fruit choice. Goldfinger is another such alternative to the Cavendish dominated market. Its Fusarium wilt and black Sigatoka resistance makes it a good fit for an organic production system, however, previous attempts to commercialise it in Australia have been unsuccessful, with consumers not favouring its softer pulp and sometimes lacklustre flavour. Mutagenesis, which has been used to breed many widely consumed plant varieties, can greatly assist with creating variants relatively quickly in the search for improved characteristics. Research conducted by the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries has identified a handful of better tasting Goldfinger selections created through a mutagenesis breeding trial. These new cultivars may offer a commercially viable alternative to growers in Fusarium wilt affected regions and integrate well into an organic production system, appealing to the steadily growing market of environmentally conscious consumers.
Robertson, K.R. and Daniells, J.W. (2023). Tailoring Goldfinger for improved market prospects. Acta Hortic. 1367, 277-286
banana, Fusarium wilt, Musa, organic production, Sigatoka