Apricot and Peach Breeding Programs from the IVIA
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Two breeding programs focused on stone fruit species are being carried out at the IVIA: an apricot breeding program started in 1993 and a peach breeding program started in 1997. The objective on apricot species is to obtain new, high-quality varieties resistant to the sharka virus with good adaptability to the Southern European environment. The sharka virus or PPV is the most limiting factor for apricot production. This virus, since its first detection in Spain in 1984, has caused enormous fruit losses and more than 1.5 million trees have been removed. The breeding program is focused on introgression of sharka resistance in locally grown cultivars. Currently, two cultivars that fulfil the objectives of the program are registered, and 13 advanced selections are under study in several apricot production regions in Spain. The peach-breeding program is aimed at obtaining new early and extra-early maturing peach and nectarine varieties, which surpass in fruit quality those currently available in the market. One of the main problems for peach culture and marketing is overproduction, due to increase in yield per hectare and expansion of the culture to subtropical areas. The main markets for Spanish production are European countries, which are great producers worldwide as well. In Valencia, Murcia, and part of Andalucia, climatic conditions allow the production of early cultivars whose ripening season does not overlap with those from the rest of European countries. In this paper, characteristics from 15 advanced selections from sharka resistant apricot and 12 peach selections that meet the objectives of the programs are described.