Friday, January 11, 2008

New Tropical Fruits Coming to a Market Near You

New varieties of tropical fruit may soon make landfall on the U.S. mainland, thanks to work by scientists with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. They are using crop management practices to increase yield and obtain high-quality tropical fruit that can be imported safely into the continental United States.

For instance, U.S. imports of mamey sapote--a cantaloupe-sized fruit prized by the Hispanic community in the United States--have been restricted by concerns that it may serve as a host for the West Indian fruit fly. But studies conducted by TARS entomologist David Jenkins indicate that these insects are unlikely to infest mamey sapote crops produced in Puerto Rico.

The station also maintains a germplasm collection of other exotic tropical and subtropical plants, including sapodilla, Spanish lime, and species of Annona and Garcinia.

Large-scale cash crop research at TARS focuses on bananas (92 accessions) and plantains (29 accessions) (in the Musa genus), cacao, papaya, beans and sorghum. Horticulturist Brian Irish and research leader Ricardo Goenaga are conducting research evaluating Musa germplasm.

Click here for more, and be sure to click through to the full magazine article, which has much more info and lots of great photos.

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