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Greg Martin 01/16/06 Back to the future of apples, Part two
by Greg Martin, click here for bio

Program: Fruit Grower Report
Date: January 16, 2006

The hope of researchers in their study of wild apples from Kazakhstan, the believed origin point of modern day apple varieties around the world, is that the genetics of these wild apples could help strengthen the current varieties in several ways. For example, breeding the wild apples with existing cultivars could create improved disease resistance against everything from apple scab to fireblight. But what really intrigues Phil Forsline of U.S.D.A.s Agricultural Research Service Plant Genetics Resource Unit is the short time it could take to develop such disease research varieties.

FORSLINE: We think that maybe with one, two, or no more than three generations we will have a different line of scab resistant apples that will have perhaps a better level of the horticultural quality than some of the existing scab resistant types.

In addition, because the Kazak apples are genetic ancestors to Red and Golden Delicious, McIntosh and other base North American apple varieties, new cultivars could be bred from the wild apple seeds and stock without extensive back graphing. And Forsline adds that the strong Kazak apple genetics could create cultivars more adaptive to climates.

FORSLINE: Where we collected this apple it was in climates similar to Minnesota, in very cold continental climates. So we probably have genetic material here that can be adapted to a broader range of environmental localities for growing the apple.

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