UC Riverside has entered into a $2.25 million partnership with Spain-based Eurosemillas S.A. to help the university bring to market the most promising and advanced avocado scions and rootstocks in its collection.
If successful, these varieties would meet diverse regional growing requirements, exhibit better post-harvest characteristics, increase yields, provide resistance against disease, and expand consumer market diversity.
“Eurosemillas has successfully commercialized citrus varieties developed at UC Riverside in the past. They have the global network and expertise to do the same with the next generation of avocados,” said Brian Suh, director of technology commercialization in the Office of Technology Partnerships at UC Riverside, who worked with a team on this initiative for the past four years.
Eurosemillas will obtain access to a small subset of the overall university avocado variety and rootstock collection for evaluation and testing on various continents to see if they perform as well as they do in California. At the same time, they will forge partnerships for commercialization that could lead to global market penetration of some of these selections.
“After 31 years of working with UC on many other crops, we are delighted to partner with UCR again in a new product like avocado,” said Javier Cano Pecci, Chief Executive and Development Officer of Eurosemillas. “The avocado market is growing and is currently dominated by the Hass variety. This is a great opportunity for growers, marketers, retailers, and consumers to have options and diversify to include better avocado varieties and rootstocks adapted to their regions.”
Mary Lu Arpaia, an extension horticulturist, said for the California industry to remain viable, growers must have new varieties that yield more than Hass, are more tolerant to environmental stress, and can be produced reliably under high-density planting systems.
“This partnership with Eurosemillas will allow us to test our five advanced rootstocks in combination with ‘Hass’ and local scions in other countries to determine their potential outside California,” Patricia Manosalva, an assistant professor of plant pathology at UCR, said.
Over the last 30 years, the avocado market has increased 2.5-fold and per capita consumption has quadrupled, generating interest in avocado production in many other countries, Manosalva said. But diseases, climate change, and the worldwide market’s dependence on the Hass variety threaten this burgeoning market.
“The funding from Eurosemillas will allow UC Riverside to maintain the plant material and support and complement the current California Avocado Commission funding of the avocado scion and rootstock breeding programs, respectively, which have significant value given their uniqueness,” said Kathryn Uhrich, dean of UC Riverside’s College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences.