Fruit Breeding in Spain
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Fruit breeding programs are recent in Spain. The first programs by conventional breeding started 33 years ago, in 1974. Breeding programs assisted by biotechnology started later, in 1996. The high increase produced during the 90's is astonishing. In the 70's only four programs were initiated and another four started in the 80's. Suddenly, twenty-four new breeding programs were initiated in the 90's and another twenty started since 2000. Fifty-two fruit breeding programs are currently active. This paper summarises causes that explain this challenge. Concerning species, the larger number of programs corresponds to stone fruits ( 32) in which peach species have 13 programs and apricot 7. Related to geographical distribution, Valencia is the most active in breeding with 11 programs, followed by Catalu a with 10 programs. Third in the ranking is Murcia with 8 programs. Funding comes from public, private and mixed sources. Nineteen programs are funded by public sources, 14 are funded by private sources and 19 are funded by mixed sources. The fruit breeding programs focused on variety breeding have as main and common objectives: sensory fruit quality, resistance or tolerance to pests and diseases, and better harvest calendar by means of early and late varieties that allow to extend the season while getting better market results. Additionally, there are other objectives specific per crop. In this paper, a description of the most important fruit breeding programs along with the main difficulties encountered by breeders on financial, scientific and technical aspects are included.