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The Birth of the New varieties of Taiwan Fruits

Date:2009-12-31

Taiwan’s agricultural development has been the focus of international attention. And continuous breed improvements have not only increased new varieties of fruit being produced in Taiwan but also corrected flaws in the original varieties while preserving their special features, giving consumers diversified choices of the fruits in the market.

 Advantage and Trend

Taiwan’s agricultural development has been the focus of international attention.Although Taiwan is located in subtropical region, the island has the geographic advantage of mountainous terrains which provide environment for tropical, subtropical and temperate climate at different altitudes above sea level. The geographic conditions are not only suitable for many fruit plants to grow but also quite rich in variety sources and breeding materials. The government has spared no effort to cultivate agricultural talents and trained many experts in the past decades, who have made significant contributions to breed improvements of Taiwan fruits. In addition to the natural geographic environment and trained talents, local farmers who have kept on absorbing new knowledge and working diligently give Taiwan the greatest competitive edge in its booming development of fruit growth, pointed out Chang Chih-sheng, deputy director of Taichung District Agricultural Research and Extension Station.

As economy grows and society progresses in recent years, there are several trends in breed improvements of Taiwan fruits. Quality, including sugar content, texture and shape, is the first priority of breed improvements. Most fruits on the market are high in sugar content with fine texture, and they are in shapes more and more appealing to consumers. For consumers, fruits with more attractive colors and sizes are the most welcome and for farmers, the higher economic benefits are the most concern. Farmers have been reluctant to plant certain fruits or unwilling to plant them in scale of economy because they are not easy to be stored or easily be damaged in collision. So how can fruits be stored for a longer time or transported without being damaged has become an important task for breed improvements.

The Birth of New Varieties

Quality, including sugar content, texture and shape, is the first priority of breed improvements.Besides the Taichung-based Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute of the Council of Agriculture and agriculture-related research institutes in colleges and universities, various district agricultural research and extension stations are the most important organizations in charge of fruit breed improvements. They have been developing different fruit plants according to the weather and geographic conditions in their respective districts. For example, grape, oriental pear, persimmon, loquat and guava are the main fruits on which Taichung District Agricultural Research and Extension Station has been working.

In fruit section under its crop improvement division of Taichung research station, the researchers focus on such cross- section researches as the breeding of fruits, culture management and the development of cultural techniques, including off-season production and fruit quality improvement. For instance, the fruit section has bred several new varieties of oriental pears after selecting different varieties of pear to plant at various altitudes above sea level for a 20-year process of trial and error. Named as Taichung No. 1, Taichung No. 2 and Taichung No. 3, the three varieties are adapted to low-elevation areas, can be harvested twice a year, and annually top-grafting is not needed. With the high-elevation pear features of fine-grained texture, crunchy, sweet, fragrant and juicy, they are very popular among consumers. In addition to lowering production cost, the new varieties have the opportunity to replace the pear trees currently being planted in orchards at high altitude areas in order to reduce the soil erosion.

Breed improvement is a time-consuming and difficult task. A new variety has to pass a long inspection procedure of selecting breed, hybrid breeding, screening and trial planting before being formally named as a new plant variety. After the publication of the new variety, it has to be introduced to local farmers and the information must be disseminated to the general public via such channels as news media, Internet, agricultural magazines and pamphlets. So don’t forget to thank the experts and farmers who have devoted quietly and diligently to breed improvements for a long time when you enjoy fragrant and sweet Taiwan fruits!

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