SECURING AND EXPANDING THE U.S. HAZELNUT INDUSTRY THROUGH BREEDING FOR RESISTANCE TO EASTERN FILBERT BLIGHT

Project Details

Description

Hazelnuts are currently being planted on a large scale in Chile, Georgia, and China, which is clear evidence that their demand exceeds current supply. The US is a significant leader in hazelnut breeding and research, yet US production amounts to <5% of the world's crop and most US consumption is from imported nuts. Eastern filbert blight (EFB), a stem canker disease found only in North America, is devastating to the European hazelnut and threatens the sustainability of current commercial production in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, where 99% of the US crop is grown. It also severely restricts expansion of hazelnut plantings in the eastern US, where selections of European hazelnut could thrive if resistant.To date, more than 40 sources of genetic resistance to the disease have been identified, although only a dozen of them have been used in breeding and all recently released commercial cultivars rely on a single R-gene. A substantial germplasm base, including new EFB-resistant accessions and cultivars and thousands of breeding progeny, has been amassed in Oregon and New Jersey. These resources are now available for study and use in developing enhanced, EFB-resistant plant material. Much research has also been completed on the genetics of hazelnut and the EFB fungus, and is now available to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of breeding for durable resistance. Through this targeted research: 1) the inheritance of EFB resistance from many new sources will be studied; 2) hazelnut germplasm available for use in breeding will be characterized with molecular markers; and, based on these results, 3) new, enhanced EFB-resistant germplasm will be developed from which to select/breed new cultivars in the future. Graduate and undergraduate students will also be trained.Broad outcomes of this project will include the expanded planting of hazelnut as a sustainable, low-input, high-value food crop. The target environments are the Pacific Northwestern US and the 'fruit belt' of the eastern states--from Virginia to the Hudson Valley and along the Great Lakes. Although the climate in these areas is suitable for growing European hazelnuts, EFB susceptibility is a major constraint. The breeding of new cultivars with durable EFB resistance will provide new economic options for growers and entrepreneurs, improve national food security, and enhance crop and product diversity.
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date7/1/136/30/15

Funding

  • National Institute of Food and Agriculture (National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA))

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