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Historical document

Perfect Pears - the national pear breeding program (AP06049)

Key research provider: Victorian Department of Primary Industries (VICDPI)
Publication date: 2008

This is a final research report from Hort Innovation’s historical archives. Please note that as these reports may date back as far as the 1990s, the content and recommendations within them may be superseded by more recent research.

What was it all about?

Perfect Pears was a national pear breeding program funded by the Victorian Department of Primary Industries, Hort Innovation (which was then Horticulture Australia Limited) and APAL. The Australian pear industry needed a quantum step change in the quality of new pear varieties to expand the pear market in both production and market sales. New varieties needed to re-invigorate consumer interest in eating pears, to attract new pear consumers and increase per capita consumption. The varieties needed to attract a price premium to facilitate expansion of pear orchard production under more intensive production systems.

The key breeding objectives were to develop new pear varieties with a combination of attractive fruit appearance, superior flesh eating quality, good storability and shelf life. New varieties ripening across the range of the pear harvest season and pear scab resistance to reduce fungicide use were also desirable.

The breeding program, based at DPI Tatura, had been breeding and assessing new pear cultivars over the previous 15 years. The program had produced up to 66,000 seedling trees in that time from over 200 different pear crosses. Of the crosses that were made, the greatest proportion of selections had come from Guyot x Corella and Guyot x Rogue Red crosses. There were now 257 new pear selections under evaluation in replicated trials.

There were 2 selections to progress to advanced large-scale evaluation trials on fruit grower properties in 2008. One selection ripened in early January (Photo 1) and had a pinkish-red blush on a yellow background with an attractive pyriform shape. It maintained a crisp juicy texture and could be tree ripened with a short storage life. The mid-season selection (Photo 2) had strong red blush on a green background with a smooth reasonably symmetrical shape. It developed a soft, juicy, texture with aromatic flavours similar to the variety Comice. This selection had the potential to handle and store long term similar to the well known pear variety Packham.

The status of genetic diversity amongst Pyrus cultivars grown in Australia was largely unknown at the time. A study of 95 cultivars/species and hybrid selections from the breeding program found a wealth of genetic diversity between them. This diversity could be utilised in cross breeding to produce a greater genetic gain in important economic traits such as disease resistance and eating quality.

Details

ISBN:
0 7341 1906 2

Funding statement:
This project was funded by Hort Innovation (then Horticulture Australia Limited) with the financial support of the apple & pear industry.

Copyright:
Copyright © Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited 2008. The Final Research Report (in part or as whole) cannot be reproduced, published, communicated or adapted without the prior written consent of Hort Innovation (except as may be permitted under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth)).