A primary job for scientists breeding citrus in Uruguay is to help the approximately 42,000-acre industry develop fresh fruit for export, Fernando Rivas said at a recent international citrus breeders symposium in Lake Alfred, Florida. Rivas works for Uruguay’s National Institute of Agricultural Research.
On. Dec. 4, Rivas told an audience of about 70 at the Citrus Research and Education Center that Uruguay’s citrus crop is 85 percent oranges and mandarins and 15 percent lemons. Citrus is Uruguay’s most important fruit crop.
Consumers of Uruguay’s citrus are most interested in flavor, followed by juiciness, nutraceutics (foods containing health-giving additives and having medicinal benefit), number of seeds and fruit color, Rivas said. Consequently, Uruguay’s breeders put a heavy focus on internal fruit quality, making fruit easy to peel, seedlessness and fruit appearance, he said. Yield, the ability of fruit to hold on the tree, market windows, disease tolerance and postharvest fruit behavior are also important, he added.
Other speakers at the breeders symposium came from Australia, Italy, South Korea and Spain.
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