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Home About IPPFBE Activities

Research Activity

The IPPFBE plant breeding activities include:

  1. Collection of plant seeds (nuts) and scion wood from thousands of selected trees and other perennial plants with desirable characteristics.
  2. Systematic evaluation of collected plants through a series of tests performed in laboratories, greenhouse, and field trials.
    • The laboratory work may involve the use of genetic markers to assist in the selection of desirable plants and the appropriate use of other tools of molecular genetics.
    • The greenhouse work involves nut stratification, planting nuts and other seeds, plant propagation using rootings and cuttings, and the grafting of scion wood. Daily greenhouse activities involve the maintenance of optimal temperatures, plant watering and fertilization, the control of pests (weeds and insects) and plant diseases, hybridization or the genetic crossing of different plants, and record keeping.
    • The field trail work involves plant propagation by planting nuts and seeds and the grafting of scion wood, irrigation, pest control, hybridization, equipment repair and maintenance, fertilization, plant evaluation, culling, and record keeping for tens of thousands of unique plants.
  3. Data entry of the recorded evaluation data for each unique plant into computerized databases for statistical analysis.
  4. Publication of results in peer-reviewed journal and research notes.
  5. Documented release of new plant varieties with genetically unique and desirable characteristics.

Variety Release and Documentation

Variety release by IPPFBE will be based on the following factors:

  1. Varieties with genetically improved characteristics will be released to public following systematic field evaluations that demonstrate significant improvements
  2. Appropriate documentation will be provided that describes the best geographic regions of adaptation, merits, and recommended use in various cultures
  3. The decision regarding restricted versus open release will be determined from criteria that result in the greatest public good.
  4. Plants possessing unique characteristics of value to other plant breeding programs will generally be made available to all researchers.

Released varieties will generally be registered in Hort Science or Crop Science, as appropriate, to document the variety’s origin, the breeding method used, and the characteristics of interest. The publication of these plant release documents will provide public recognition for the scientific value of corporation research.

Plant Breeding Program and Methods

The current IPPFBE plant-breeding program is focused on developing perennial plants that are adapted throughout the Intermountain West and uses field trial plots located in northern Utah and southeastern Idaho. The program is an expansion and enhancement of an initial research program located in Richmond, Utah. Tens of thousands of nuts collected from selected trees in the United States and Canada, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Ukraine, western China, and other areas of Central Asia have been planted. Over seven thousand genetically unique seedlings are currently being evaluated in field trials conducted on plots located at Richmond, Utah, and Dayton, Idaho. The tree species being evaluated include black walnuts, Persian walnuts, filberts, apricots, pecans, heart nuts, pine nuts, oaks, and chestnuts. The scope of the IPPFBE plant-breeding program will be expanded in cooperation with other plant breeding programs to produce enhanced perennial crops adapted throughout most of the temperate regions of the world.

The evaluation criteria used in the IPPFBE plant breeding program include:

  1. Resistance to important plant diseases and insect pests
  2. Cold hardiness including later flowering to avoid early spring frosts
  3. Drought resistance
  4. Vigor and early nut production
  5. Resistance to lime-induced iron chlorosis and high soil pH
  6. Nut size and high annual nut yields
  7. Nut flavor, shelling characteristics, and nutritional qualities
  8. Apricots with late ripening (mid September) to extend market season
  9. Attractive appearance and tree form
  10. Timber characteristics (walnuts, pecans, and oaks)

Thousands of additional seedlings will be planted each year as new, more diverse, and promising sources of genetic material (seeds, graft wood, and other propagating material) become available, opportunities arrive, and objectives expand.  Plants that do not meet the rigorous selection criteria of the breeding program will be discarded as soon as identified.  Field evaluations will be complemented with appropriate laboratory screens including the use of genetic markers to select favorable plants and other advanced laboratory technologies consistent with the natural enhancement of plant characteristics.

Intercrossing of the best plants will produce progenies to determine the best parents to use in genetically diverse varieties and breeding populations and to initiate new cycles of phenotype and genotype recurrent selection and backcrossing. Each of these breeding cycles should build on the accomplishments of all previous cycles.  The continuous plant improvement provided by a long-term breeding program is a great advantage over the numerous short-term breeding programs that focus on short-term research results. Economic factors typically force most institutions to focus their research on short-term projects with very limited scope.

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