Australian Citrus Breeding Program (CT21001)
What’s it all about?
This investment is undertaking a comprehensive and diverse breeding program designed to sustain the viability of the Australian citrus industry by delivering better mandarin and orange varieties onto commercial orchards. These improved genetics will address key trends that have guided past breeding activities resulting in successful new varieties that growers want to grow, agents want to market, and consumers want to eat.
Six key consumer trends will inform the direction of the breeding program: less seeds, less chemical residues, less effort (easy to peel, no mess), more taste, more consistent (same product at every purchase), and more visually attractive. Mandarins and oranges are the main citrus types targeted by this project, with a focus on seedlessness, natural disease resistance and improved flavour.
This project will build on past breeding successes, including the use of citrus genetic material developed through past research. This unique genetic resource will be employed in the current project and offers significant opportunities particularly in terms of seedlessness, natural disease resistance and higher Brix. The project team will apply accurate phenotyping techniques, knowledge of trait heritability, progeny-tested parents, new disease screening tests, molecular screening, and efficient implementation of diverse breeding methodologies to generate commercial outcomes.
Over the last year, a new selection of citrus called '15C001' with high-quality fruit was released for commercial production, generating significant interest amongst growers and marketers. Productivity issues have been addressed through experiments, specifically focusing on gibberellic acid (GA) application and trunk cincturing.
Over 6,500 hybrids were planted at the Bundaberg Research Station for developing seedless disease-resistant mandarins and oranges, as well as enhancing Citrus Huanglongbing (HLB) resistance.
An international review by leading citrus breeders took place, resulting in modifications to improve efficiency. A National Citrus Breeding Field Day showcased the project's impact on Australian citrus through improved germplasm. Early fruiting in progeny blocks confirmed the success of the breeding strategy, emphasising seed reduction and disease resistance as key focuses for meeting consumer demands.
This project is funded through the Hort Innovation Citrus Fund using the citrus R&D levy and contributions from the Australian Government.