The Instituto Nacional de Investigação Agrária e Veterinária, I.P. (INIAV,I.P.), based in Oeiras, organized a meeting on Nov. 9-11 with producer companies in southern Portugal to present the first results of the breeding program initiated by INIAV in order to develop new raspberry and blackberry cultivars more suitable for cultivation in these environments and of direct use to local companies.
In fact, such a 'participatory breeding' project involves continuous discussion between INIAV researchers, working with the support of international experts, and the managers of the companies that will turn out to be the direct users of the varieties that will be developed.
The three days of meetings discussed the issues of raspberry and blackberry genetic improvement and the objectives considered a priority by southern Portuguese companies for obtaining new varieties useful for improving their production and commercial competitiveness.
For raspberry, aware of the increased competition with other breeding programs, priority has been given to identifying new cultivars that are best differentiated by production period in their specific production environment, ensuring high quality and production standards.
These goals were also identified as priorities by the blackberry genetic improvement project, particularly highlighting the need to raise quality standards.
Two activity programs have been identified for this species:
(a) short term breeding, based on a program including commercially known varieties historically as parents, so as to explore their potential to create new variability and possible cultivars with higher commercial value;
(b) long term breeding, based on the use of wild Rubus species, assimilated to blackberry(Rubus fruticosus), found in natural environments in Portugal, to recover and transfer into commercial varieties new characters especially in adaptability to environments, disease resistance and fruit quality.
The meeting included several moments of discussion with representatives of the project partner companies, a technical meeting where the activities initiated and strategies to develop were presented and discussed, and a visit to the experimental fields, showing what was initiated for bramble and also the first selections already identified of interest for raspberry.
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