Spain: Project seeks recovery of traditional melon, watermelon, courgette and pumpkin varieties

A group of researchers from the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV) is leading a project to recover traditional melon, watermelon, courgette and pumpkin varieties, adapting them to organic farming.

As reported by the UPV in a statement, this project is funded by the Goverment of the Region of Valencia and aims to promote the transition of these cucurbits to organic farming.

The contribution of the Germplasm Bank of the UPV, in which many traditional varieties of these crops, selected for centuries, are preserved and multiplied, has been essential.

Crops belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family, such as melons, watermelons, courgettes and pumpkins are very important from an economic and social perspective, both at national and local level.

Spain is Europe's largest producer and exporter and most of the volume of these fruits and vegetables is produced in conventional farming systems.

The UPV team, led by the researcher of the Institute for the Conservation and Improvement of the Valencian Agrodiversity, Belén Picó, aims to obtain new cucurbits adapted to organic production, recovering traditional varieties whose cultivation has been lost over the years.

According to Belen Picó, today there is a widespread demand for more natural products, with more aroma, more flavour and fewer residues.

In the fruit and vegetable sector, this is no longer just a demand for better quality and lower toxicity, but also with trying to reduce the environmental impact of agriculture.

"New varieties are needed to reduce the use of fertilizers, pesticides and water, as this will limit the negative impact on waters and soils," added Picó.

The traditional varieties they aim to develop stand out for their quality and adaptation to different types of abiotic stress (hydric, saline, associated with extreme temperatures, etc.), although they need to be improved to better resist other types of biotic stress (viral, fungal, etc.), whose impact and severity is increasing in the current framework of global climate change.

Source: EFE

Publication date: 3/7/2018

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