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26th Scientific Symposium with International Participation

Project CEEX 20

Sustainable fruit production: from genotype towards environmental protection and human health


2. Known objectives

In the fruit breeding the main objective is to improve the market quality and nutritional value of the fresh fruits. Regarding to plant propagation for fruit species and dendrological species as well, testing of the new homologated or new introduced cultivars and the prospected elites associated with various rootstocks is a major research objective in advanced-fruit production countries. Lots of cultivars of apple, plum, pear and sweet cherry have been lately introduced in Romania, but their behavior in nurseries is hardly known. Among the new branches of biotechnology, the in vitro cultures have had a great interest in agriculture.

From the view point of the soil-plant-atmosphere-continuum (SPAC) relationships, there are concernments on the optimizing of water and nutrient uptake by fruit trees in order to achieve the best qualitative and quantitative parameters of fruit yield, and implicitly a good economic efficiency and the conservation of the environment. The date of application for irrigation water and fertilizers as well as the amount of water to be applied in orchards are required not only in the design, set-up and exploitation of the irrigation systems, but also under the new, private-property conditions in order to increase fruit yield for farmers. However, it has not been found the best irrigation method in orchards by now, e.g. sprinkler, drip or micro-sprinkler irrigation as fertigation. It has to go on emphasizing: 1) the water and fertilizer distribution in soil as supplied by various irrigation methods, 2) the knowledge of water uptake distribution in soil, 3) avoiding soil compaction as effect of the technological traffic on wetted soils, 4) the irrigation effects on the fruit tree growth, fruit-setting (fruit bud differentiation, fruit size) and yield, 5) the influence of irrigation on some physiological processes and the selection of some improved indicators for irrigation scheduling, 6) the effects of irrigation on the chemical composition of fruits and leaves, as well as on the fruit preservation capacity.

For the fruit preservation the following known objectives are presented here: a) the transformation inside the fruit before and just after harvesting, b) finding the optimum harvesting moment for the fruits to be preserved a long period, c) the emphasizing the ethylene role in fruit ripening.

Nutritional value. It can be noted that for the time being the researchers focus their attention towards the identification of new fruit components being active in the balanced human nourishment or which can be a source of raw material in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry, as is the case of the small fruits with a high diversity in bio-active substances in fruits.

Significant results obtained and implementation modalities

The local fruit market, which is in a permanent diversification and qualitative improvement, still needs an increase in fruit quality at the European standard. The results obtained by now in fruit genetics are quite good by introducing new cultivars of apple like Florina, pear like Highland, plum like Agen 707, Centenar, Carpatin, sweet cherry like Cerna, Daria, Ponoare, Rivan, Bigarreau Burlat, Van and sour cherry like Meteor, Nana, etc. The studies carried out so far show that in order to cover the market needs, an increase in high-quality fruit sort varieties is required to replace the local or older cultivars, or those intended more to processing. Modernization of fruit sorts and crop technologies lead to an improvement of the local fruit growing as required by the European standards, and also raise the civilization level in this country as well as better protect the environment and human health. In Romania a steady program of genetic breeding for small fruits and strawberry is carried out and its results show now 17 new cultivars which were created starting with year 1996, as well as a valuable genetic material that is in various stages of breeding, and a germplasm background with more than 600 genotypes belonging to the genus Rubus, Ribes, Vaccinium, Fragaria, Rosa, Hippophae, Cornus, etc.

From the view point of plant propagation of fruit trees as well as dendrologic plants, concerns to find proper nursery material by in vitro cultures are being performed in countries like Italy, USA, France, etc. Investigations done in Romania succeeded in finding plant propagation for some dendrologic species and cultivars within the department of tissue cultures from some specialized units.

From the phyto-sanitary treatment view point, it can be stated that the best results have been obtained worldwide in the following directions: a) determination of the effects of some less pollutant substances in controlling some key pests (Psyylla spp. Rhagoletis cerasi, Dysaphis plantaginea) and protection of the useful entomo-fauna from the sustainable system orchards, b) ways and means to induce to some apple tree cultivars a higher resistance to Scab by applying a small number of phyto-sanitary treatments, c) methods to decrease Cu-based phyto-sanitary treatments to strawberries cropped in an organic system, d) development of modern methods and techniques to early detect and forecast the specific pests and diseases.

The influence of irrigation and drainage (were necessary) on the tree growth and fruiting as well as on the fruit quality and storage capacity has been studied. So, irrigation is needed even in the areas with rainfalls up to 800 – 900 mm/year. Association of irrigation with fertilization (fertirigation) is presently used in the word fruit growing and the Romanian research has adopted this technological link for the Romanian fruit crops. It is seeking a better way of utilization the natural resources (water, light, soil) and the technology and on the other hand to get more balanced nutritional conditions according to the principles of the integrated and organic fruit culture. In Western Europe, one can see that the tree training system varies from one region to another. In the Northern part of the continent, the tree density/ha has been increasing to cover the orchard area at maximum and to get a better sun radiation. In these high density orchards the fruits trees are trained as slender spindle, North-Dutch spindle and super spindle at height up to 2 m, multiple tree rows (3 – 6 row strips) with traffic alleys or even „full field” system (Wertheim S.J., 1978 a,b; Wertheim S.J. et. al., 1986, Ogata R., 1988, Mika A et al., 1977). In the South Europe, the fruit trees have a higher potential, the light and heat easing a foster development and fruiting. The tree density is 1500 – 2000 trees/ha, trained as vertical axle and axle-spindle, reaching 3 m in height (Sansavini S., 1986). Regarding the nutritional value of fruit they can be freshly consumed and processed as well for nutrient supplements (in factors approved by the Health Ministry).

Problems proposed to be solved

In order to answer to the project objectives, field experiments in orchards are designed for both seed-like species and stone-like species as well as for small fruits. One of the most important objectives from the fruit-genetics view point is the one aimed at the improvement of the market quality and the indicators characterizing the nutritional fresh fruit value for the species mentioned above through: a) field experiments on the agronomic behavior of the high-value biological material with regard to the ecological soil and climate adaptability and the plant resistance to the main diseases which show a negative economic and market impact, b) laboratory studies on pollen fertility and germination, determination of the genetic compatibility for a correct association involving fruit quality of the orchard genotypes, c) detection and selection of high-quality, resistant genotypes by using the electrophoresis analysis of izo-enzymes, d) evaluation of quality parameters and the content in the main fruit biochemical components with a decisive role in the human organism vitality by using certified methods, e) finding a large fruit variety sort according to the fruit market standards and their characteristics, f) homologation and multiplication of the new achieved products.

Identification of new, high-quality genes resistant to the biotic and abiotic stress factors as well as their new cross-breeding combination to produce genotypes with both attributes; identification of hybrids, selections and prospective elites with agronomic standards higher than the existing cultivars; identification and selection of genotypes showing a high content in anti-oxidant, therapeutic and nutritive compounds; increasing fruit quality for processing fruits, meaning a high bio-chemical content and better fruit physical properties like color, seeds, etc.; extending the maturation season and the fresh fruit consume also for small fruits and strawberry.

From the view point of plant propagation for fruit species and dendrologic species as well, strategies on: a) how to obtain fruit-tree nursery material by promoting some rootstocks and cultivars which have been homologated or new introduced as well as prospective selections, b) utilization of ”in vitro” plant propagation techniques for both fruit species and dendrological species, c) plant propagation and promotion of ornamental dendrological sort suitable for the ”topiar art”.

From the phyto-sanitary view point, the technical solutions on the pest and disease control management, as proposed in the present project, aim at how to acquire high-quality fruits that more reliable to consumer and to the environmental protection. With regard to weeds, one can be said that the long-term strategy has the following research directions given below. As not all the weeds are enough known now, research has to go on especially on the weed biology and ecology as well.

From the SPAC view point it is about: 1) a deeper knowledge of the water and nutrient spatial distribution as delivered by various irrigation methods including on heavy-clay soils with drainage problems, 2) determination of crop water uptake for each irrigation method aimed at reducing water and fertilizer losses by leaching and protecting the environment, 3) finding technical elements for the irrigation methods used in intensive orchards, 4) influence of irrigation application on fruit tree growth and fruit-setting (differentiating fruit buds, fruit bearing, fruit size, etc.), 5) influence of irrigation application on some physiological processes and selection of some improved indicators characterizing irrigation scheduling like sap flow velocity, leaf water potential, modern soil moisture measurements, photosynthetic light measurements, etc.), 6) effects of irrigation application on the fruit and leaf chemical composition and fruit preservation capacity, 7) elaboration of a modern technology of fertigation, working-out of specific paper on the project subject as well as information dissemination to the potential users. From the rational sunlight utilization view point, according to the present-time concept on intensive orchards tree canopy should have a young structure, mainly being composed by semi-skeleton branches, uniformly distributed fruit branches and a canopy capable to intercept over 60% from the sunlight. In this sense, a comparative study is proposed on more great concepts on how to increase sunlight utilization by using various tree crown types (conical, cylindrical, 1-1,5 m low crowns, oblique-branched crowns like cross Y, system V, etc., or horizontal-plane receivers like Solen, Tesa, etc.).

From the fruit preservation view point it is about: a) the concentration of fruit ripening, b) the methods to stop the ethylene effect on fruit ripening, c) the extension of fruit preservation period by improving fruit firmness, d) keeping the organo-leptic qualities and fruit chemical composition, e) working up a new fruit preservation technology capable to improve fruit quality.