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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 334: I International Pineapple Symposium

HISTORICAL REVIEW OF PINEAPPLE BREEDING IN HAWAII

Authors:   D.D.F. Williams, H. Fleisch
Keywords:   Disease resistance, seediness, germplasm
Abstract:
Pineapple breeding was started at the Federal Station in Honolulu by V. Holt in 1914 and by W. Doty at the Hawaiian Sugar Planter's Association Experiment Station on behalf of the Association of Hawaiian Pineapple Canners in 1916. The Association soon took over the program with its own experiment stations, at Kapalama and then Wahiawa, hiring Kenneth Kerns as a plant breeder in 1926 and J.L.Collins as a geneticist in 1929. The Association later became the Pineapple Growers Association of Hawaii (PGAH) and its experiment station the Pineapple Research Institute (PRI).

Varieties were developed that, compared with Cayenne, had better resistance to Phytophthora cinnamomi and P. parasitica, pineapple wilt, nematodes, pink disease and internal brown spot. Varieties with higher vitamin C, vitamin A, less elevated acid content in winter ripened fruit, better harvest peaking, higher yield, better cannery recovery from a ton of fruit, faster plant growth and a range of distinctive flavors were also developed.

All these varieties after intensive screening exhibited flaws which prevented them from replacing Smooth Cayenne as the commercially grown canning or fresh fruit variety in Hawaii. After very large progenies (50,000+ seedlings) screened from each of the most promising parental crosses in the late 1960's - early 70's failed to produce commercially acceptable varieties the decision was made to phase out the breeding program. Crossing was terminated in 1972, the PRI experiment station was closed in 1975 and evaluation of progenies was completed at Maui Pineapple Company in 1985.

Several PRI varieties were released to PRI member companies for potential commercial use, and Philippine Packing Corporation in the 1950's started its own ongoing variety development program based on PRI breeding stocks.

PRI's disease resistant varieties and its collection of world varieties and species were turned over to the USDA germ plasm repository by 1986. The disease resistant and some 40 other PRI varieties which exhibited superior qualities are being maintained by Maui Pineapple Company for use if genic transfer techniques readily adaptable to pineapple variety improvement become available. These varieties and their parentage are listed in the text.

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