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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 1147: IX International Symposium on Artichoke, Cardoon and Their Wild Relatives

A successful strategy to obtain artichoke hybrids

Authors:   N.A. Rey, R. Jordan, F. Saccardo, M.A. Pagnotta
Keywords:   globe artichoke, hybrid seed, heterosis, yield, earliness
DOI:   10.17660/ActaHortic.2016.1147.50
In the last half century the world population has doubled to 7 billion, while the land under cultivation increased just by 12%, from 1.37 to 1.53 billion ha. In what manner, then, did agricultural production triple? By increasing productivity, with a combination of improved agronomical practices and improved crops. In this context the exploitation of plant heterosis has been an effective approach in crop enhancement, hybrid cultivars in major crops can show more than 20% yield advantage over the best conventional ones under the same cultivation conditions. In this attempt, trying to meet commercial and industrial needs, academy (University of Tuscia, Italy) and industry (BHS, USA) encountered over again aiming to produce artichoke commercial hybrid seed through the use of male sterility. The project started in 2007, with 3 male sterile clones and 5 stable open pollinated cultivars, since then, more than 200 male sterile clones and 20 open pollinated cultivars have been developed to produce more than 500 crosses; around 30 of them, with interesting agro-morphological traits and uniformity, have been tested in different countries of the new and old world. The selected hybrids are under evaluation to assess their reproducibility and possibility of success in the global seed market. The different market requests in term of artichoke typologies and quality characteristics, which vary between the fresh market (green, purple, spiny, ovate, round heads) and the processing industry market characterized for green ovate typologies; hence it is required to allow the production/registration of a wide range of hybrids covering the different requests. Currently, one hybrid of Romanesco type, named LSQUORomoloRSQUO has been registered in Italy and is been sold successfully by La Semiorto Sementi srl. and its commercial firm Top Seed. The project results show how artichokes hybrids combine advantages that contribute to more vigorous plant growth, earliness, healthier plants which require lower input in pesticides and fungicides. In addition, plants from seeds are cheaper than plants derived by meristem practices. In other words, seed planting is a viable approach that makes globe artichoke friendlier both to the grower and to the environment.

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