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Can kiwifruit grow in Romania? Results of the Romanian breeding program after 25 years of research on Actinidia spp.

This abstract emerged as one of the outstanding research within the oral Session on Sustainable food systems and quality at the CASEE Scientific conference 2021. YPARD held a scientific competition that was tagged "Empowering young researchers of the Danube region in sustainable food systems" within the CASEE conference 2021.

The competition aimed to support the continued professional and personal growth of young professionals attending the CASEE Conference. The top three posters and the top three oral presentations related to sustainable food systems were selected. 

Enjoy reading the abstract!

Authors: L. Iliescu1 , G. Peticilă1 , G. Zuccherelli2 , F. Stănică1

  1. USAMV Bucureşti, Romania, Bucharest, Romania
  2. Vitroplant Italia, Cesena, Italy

Domesticated from wild populations located on Yangtze River basin, kiwifruit is a recently developed crop and only within the last 70 years started to be commercialised. In Romania, kiwi is a new fruit specie and the creation, testing and introduction of winter hardy genotypes, adapted to the local harsh climate conditions represent a priority. The first kiwifruit orchards with Actinidia deliciosa and A. arguta were planted in Romania in 1993, at Ostrov (Constanța County), on the border of the Danube River. In the same year, a common Italian-Romanian kiwifruit breeding program was initiated at the Faculty of Horticulture within the University of Agronomic Sciences and Veterinary Medicine of Bucharest. The experimental field with kiwifruit hybrid genotypes, was established on chernozem black soil in the Romanian plain, using some hybrid seedlings. The plants were grown under an organic orchard management, on a T-bar trellis system. The inter row surface was covered with a mixture of perennial grasses and mowed mechanically, and along the row, the soil was kept clean. Drip irrigation and micro spray irrigation system was provided. Since 1993, research has been carried out to determine the best methods of propagation, growing and kiwifruit orchard management. Genotypes phenology was studied every year in comparison with the climatic data. In parallel, physical and biochemical fruit characteristics were evaluated after ripening and during the storage. In time, several hybrid genotypes were obtained by free and controlled crossings between different cultivars of A. arguta: Francesca, Rosana, Jumbo, AA2, AA5, AA 6, AA 8 and the male ARM. The first flowers and fruits from A. arguta hybrid plants were produced in 2001 and selection has continued since then. After some years of observations and tests, eight elite female plant with interesting fruit characteristics were chosen for 28 propagation and testing under commercial orchard conditions. From this, three kiwiberry selections were registered: ‘Vip Green’ (R8P23), ‘Vip Red’ (R8P20) and ‘Green Delight’ (R8P1). Other intra and interspecific crossings using A. deliciosa and A. chinensis were made and from the initial hybrids, some selected genotypes as R0P13, R1P9, R1P8 and R1P12, have good fruit characteristics and yield. The new selections have to be registered as cultivars and can be successfully cultivated on commercial orchards and in private gardens. This paper presents few results of the Actinidia spp. Romanian breeding program. Some fruit quality characteristics of the new kiwi selections and hybrids as average weight, fruit shape index, pulp firmness, soluble solids, dry matter, acidity and ascorbic acid are detailed. After more than two decades of research, it was demonstrated that Actinidia deliciosa and A. chinensis can be grown in Romania in peach favourable areas, while A. arguta (kiwiberry or baby kiwi) can cover larger areas, suitable for plum cultivation.

If you are captured by this research topic and would like to discover more, please contact PhDs Eng. Lavinia Mihaela Iliescu via iliescu_lavinia@yahoo.com.

Picture credit: Lavinia Mihaela Iliescu