FINAL REPORT ON END-USER NEEDS AND URGENT OLIVE BREEDING LINES
It is well known that there are programs for the genetic improvement of the olive tree that seek to obtain varieties that have greater production, that are more resistant to certain diseases and to climatic conditions in the area, among others. But what remained unknown is within those categories, which are the ones that must be prioritized when carrying out an olive breeding program, based on the most urgent needs of the end users. This prioritization is important to find the most proper solutions regarding olive genetic resources with a view to the needs of the market.
In that sense, a series of decisions were taken in order to create a useful survey to assess the end-users and with the aim of reaching as many people as possible.
The results were positive, it was possible to evaluate an extensive list of final users from different countries and conclusions were obtained that helped to delineate the future actions of the project.
- In general, based on the end-user needs, the plant improvement activities should focus on the following aspects, in that order:
- Resistance to climate change
- Resistance to pest and diseases
- Production and quality
- Adaptability to high density plantations
- In addition, when asked about what they would value the most in an olive variety in order to consider it the ideal variety, more than 42% agreed on obtaining high yield varieties, more than 30% quality and the resistance to pest and diseases important. And more than 23% valued the adaptability to climatic variations. At last, only 2% proposed varieties adapted to high density plantations.
- More than 50% of the surveyed end users are concerned about the Olive Fly as an olive tree pest. Likewise, approximately 22% are concerned about Verticilium and Repilo diseases. Only 9% have concerns about Xyllela fastidiosa. Regarding this last one, when asked about the level of importance that they give to plant breeding activities focused on obtaining a variety resistant to this disease, 75% of the end users gave a punctuation more than 5 to that level of importance, being 10 the highest value of importance.
- In order to implement a high-density system, end users considered that the existing varieties should be improved in terms of the olive oil yield, quality and that the trees should have less vigor and be more resistant to pest and diseases.
- In general, end users have tried more tolerant varieties for the Bactrocera oleae pest and Verticillium disease, rather than for Colletotrichum, Spilocea oleaginum and Xyllela Fastidiosa. More than 40% of the surveyed present the need to acquire varieties that are tolerant to those pests and diseases. In addition, the most known tolerant varieties are Koroneiki, Arbequina, Frantoio and Leccino.
- In Spain, the aspect that was considered most important for a new variety, regarding the geographic location, was the chilling hour reduction. In Morocco, Greece, Italy and Turkey it was the drought tolerance, and in Iran the high temperature resistance.
- All end users agreed that the future orientation of olive oil will follow guidelines for varieties of higher quality oil, rather than more productive varieties. In addition to this, when asked to farmers, more than 85% valued a breeding program for the improvement of the polyphenol content of the oil as important (i.e., punctuation more than 5). Also, when asked to farmers and people related to the industry, 74% of them would consider having a high-quality olive oil for their farm, even if that meant less production.
- Regarding the table olives, most of the end user agreed that there will be an increase in the consumption of this product, consequently the production will escalate. They also agreed that improvement activities should focus on increasing the fruit size, making it easier to detach the seed from the fruit, improve the adaption to mechanized harvesting and the resilience to pest and diseases.
- Finally, more than 90% of the surveyed are interested in acquiring a new olive variety to face a specific problem.