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Researchers release new variety of asparagus

amounts of this new variety appear in the market."

Asparagus, a perennial vegetable, has both male and female plants. In the case of DePaoli, first a male parent and a female parent are selected for their good characteristics including spear size, spear quality, yield, and disease tolerance. Next, these plants are crossed and the resulting hybrids are evaluated for yield, spear quality and other essential traits. When two parents that produce good hybrid offspring have been identified, a large number of the male and female parent plants are produced by cloning using tissue culture methods. The male and female plants are then planted in an isolated field. Bees pollinate the females, leading to seed production. These seeds are then sold and planted by farmers who produce the spears consumers eventually will buy. "The first commercial harvest of seeds has only just been completed," Roose said.

DePaoli asparagus is similar in taste to previous varieties of asparagus. Currently, the UCR research team is working on producing improved varieties of the vegetable by incorporating new approaches in their research.

"One path we may take is to identify 'supermale' plants that produce only male offspring when hybridized with a female. Such male varieties are used in Europe and other parts of the US, but have not been successful in California," Roose said. "Male plants produce more spears than female plants because the latter expend energy in order to produce seeds, resulting in lower yields. For male varieties to be successful, we must identify a supermale that produces hybrids with good quality spears. Another current activity for our research is to incorporate tools from molecular genetics to improve the efficiency of asparagus breeding."

Asparagus, which is a Greek word meaning stalk or shoot, grows best in sandy, well-drained soils. The plant can be productive for 15 years or more. Asparagus spears grow from a crown ?the root system of an
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Source:University of California - Riverside


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