Apricot is cultivated in the five Mediterranean countries of the Community. Its production is not in surplus and it has great potential, not only as fresh fruit, but also for processing by the food industries. Unfortunately, these outlets are difficult to exploit for a number of reasons. First, there is a crucial lack of cultivated varieties, they are specialized to particular climatic areas and show irregularity in their production. Secondly, because of its rapid development, the fruit is difficult to transport and must be harvested before maturity, to reach markets in good condition. Thirdly, apricot culture is extremely sensitive to diseases, such as bacterioses, chlorosis and sharka (plum pox virus).
The object of the research is to improve the marketing possibilities for apricot through 3 complementary actions. The first is to create new varieties of apricot stress, adapted to the climates of the various cultural areas, which exhibit a time range in production of their fruit, so extending seasonal availability of fresh fruit. The second is to improve the quality of the fruit and of its products by development of better methods of preservation and to diversify the use of the production as processed products. The third is to counter disease susceptibility by developing new varieties resistant to bacterioses, chlorosis and sharka.
The object of the research was to improve the marketing possibilities for apricot as a fresh fruit and in food processing. Selected apricot varieties were exchanged between the participants for assessment of their performance on a range of sites, for exploitation of the existing genetic variability. A collection of reference varieties was completed and an investigation concerning floral compatibility of the main varieties was initiated. Hybridization was carried out for the creation of new genetic variability for further selection. An important subject considered was the methodology of selection and the problem of sampling to take into account fruit quality characters. A protocol was adopted for a common approach by the participants to the characterization of quality of preharvest and postharvest fruits. Modified atmosphere preservation, through the use of semipermeable film, appears to be a promising approach to the postharvest problem of rapid maturation of fruits. With respect to pathology, identification has been made of the various strains of Agrobacterium tumefaciens, Pseudomonas and Xanthomonas prunil, found in different countries. A systematic investigation of the resistance or susceptibility to sharka virus of the cultivated varieties has been initiated. The selection test is being optimized to determine the genetic mechanism of resistance to disease.