It takes 14 years on the average to develop a new red raspberry cultivar for producers.
Getting a Closeup of what growers and consumers want in these hard-won varieties concerns researchers at Washington State University who now have a $50,000 grant to discover what direction to go in when breeding new cultivars.
Understanding consumer and grower needs and refining breeding processes to develop cultivars that meet those needs is the focus of this new nationwide grant being led by WSU.
Scientists at WSU will use the USDA Specialty Crops Research Initiative grant to lead a team of researchers throughout the nation and Canada to gather grower input.
They'll ask what the next cultivars of red raspberries should look like in terms of yield, fruit size, firmness, disease susceptibility and machine harvestability, among other queries. Taste, of course, will be a major concern of the researchers.
The data they gather will set the stage for a much larger grant to actually bring the latest genomics and genetics research to bear on developing those cultivars.
"Taking the time to listen to consumer and grower needs and map out a plan absolutely will help speed up raspberry breeding," says Patrick Moore, a WSU plant breeder. "Perhaps more importantly, we'll be more likely to come up with the things we really need and want out of future cultivars.
"We'll have a better product."
The WSU researchers will work with counterpart scientists at Salve Regina University, the University of Illinois, Brigham Young University, North Carolina Sate University, Cornell, USDA's Agricultural Research Service, and Agri-Food Canada to systematically seek and analyze input from red raspberry growers, processors and consumers.
The first of their "listening sessions" is scheduled to be held in Ohio during January.One aspect of the sessions will be discussions of some of the costliest pests of red raspberries, such as root rot, raspberry bushy dwarf virus, and nematodes. "All of these are tailor-made to be addressed by the latest molecular techniques we use."