ISSUE: The development of new crop varieties of the Rosaceae plant family with improved horticultural performance and market potential can be accelerated with use of DNA information in breeding, benefiting all supply chain members through more efficient, accurate, and creative breeding for desirable crop traits. However, DNA-informed breeding requires extensive genetic knowledge, trained personnel, and sufficient financial resources. Therefore, it is crucial for breeders to focus their efforts and resources on valuable crop attributes throughout the whole supply chain and of value to consumers.

However, systematically identifying these valuable attributes is challenging. Very few studies of crop plants have evaluated the importance of attributes across the supply chain members and consumers. Breeders have therefore had to focus their breeding programs on specific targets with little systematic knowledge of the relative value of incremental improvements in those traits for producers, market intermediaries, and consumers.

PROGRESS: The relative importance to different stakeholders (breeders, growers, market intermediaries, and consumers) of trait levels for apple, peach, strawberry, sweet cherry, and tart cherry were investigated. In addition, economic values of achieving particular fruit quality trait thresholds (added dollar value per pound) for growers and marketing intermediaries were estimated in these crops. Marginal values for consumers of achieving fruit quality trait thresholds in fresh market apples were also estimated.

IMPACT: Project resources for genetic test development were directed to those genomics discoveries having the highest relative value of importance across stakeholders. Information about the economic values of specific crop trait levels is now available to inform the ongoing work of geneticists and breeders as they develop new genetic tests and direct those to efficiently, accurately, and creatively developing superior new crop varieties of value ot stakeholders.

Examples of high value trait levels for which genetic tests have been developed include: apple exceptional crispness, juiciness, tartness, and freedom from bitter pit blemishes, various peach fruit types (normal/low acid, yellow/white flesh, peach/nectarine, melting/non-melting, and freestone/clingstone) that can be targeted across the fruiting season, strawberry sufficient acidity, sweet cherry large size and firmness, and tart cherry red fruit color.