How do they Crossbreed Fruit? Any Aggies Out There?

Man, I just love some of the new fruit that is coming out at the stores lately. The plumots(a cross between apricots and plums) are awesome. Then just two days go I saw a grapefruit that looked like a giant lime. I am not sure what it is cross of but dang it is good. My kids loved it too.

So I was wondering how do they do that? Do they inject the seed of one fruit into another one or what? But dang it is good oh I already said that. :smiley:

In a word, Bill, “pollination”. They dust pollen from one plant onto another plant, plant the resultant seeds, grow them out, cull vigorously for the qualities they want, and about 10 to 20 years later have something marketable (square tomatoes, plumcots, etc.)

Thanks duck duck I was being to think there were no ag experts on this board. Have you tried the new fruits yet and did you go to A&M?

A plumot is, in fact, an expression deriving from the French plus mots, literally more words, but has come to mean more words than necessary, or more posts than are actually needed in message board jargon.

Well, wait a minute. Are “plumots” really a cross between a plum and an apricot? Or are they just plums that have been bred to have a taste similar to apricots? If the latter, then I imagine some type of breeding program would produce such a fruit, as Duck Duck Goose says. However, if the former is true, cross-breeding of different species is required, which is much harder, and Wild Bill’s question stands unanswered. Unless plums and apricots are more closely related than I think they are.

Well, yes plums and apricots are closely related. I don’t know how close you THOUGHT they were related, so I can’t answer your question specificially. But plums, apricots, peaches, nectarines, and almonds are all closely related species.

Plants have an astonishing ability to hybridize. In fact, many of our staple crops have come from hybridization. Wheat is an example…thousands of years ago someone crossed two varieties of primitive wheat resulting in our standard tetraploid wheat. And anyone who watches Star Trek knows about Triticale, “a high yield hybrid of wheat and rye” as Mr. Spock would say.

What makes these hybridizations possible is polyploidy. See, normally when gametes (that’s the pollen and ova) are produced the DNA is split in half. When the gametes meet each has half the DNA needed for a new plant, they combine and a baby plant is born. The plant needs both copies of the genes to be healthy.

If plants from different species pollinate each other the seeds are often sterile, since the seeds won’t have the double complement of genes needed for to grow. But sometimes gametes don’t separate their DNA correctly. Instead of half the DNA from their parent, they get all the DNA. And if two gametes like this happen to meet, then there is a chance that the baby plant will be viable.

This doesn’t happen often, but it happens often enough that it is an important source of new species. Add in the fact that most plants can self-fertilize, and the brand new baby plant can start its own species all by itself without needing mates. Or it could perhaps mate with one of the parent species.

Oh, another thing. Many of these “new” fruits and vegetables coming on the market now aren’t really new. Some have been around for millenia. It’s just that only now are they being mass-marketed in the US. Of course, others really are new.

…not forgetting cherries, sloes, greengages, bullaces, damsons and myrobalans, which are also all members of the genus Prunus.

Many people think that nectarines are a plum/peach hybrid, but in fact they are just strains of peach that produce no fuzz. I’ve not seen Plumcots over here in the UK; I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled.

Citrus fruits are relatively easy to cross; I recently saw a mandarin/lemon hybrid that produced a round, sweet, easy-to-peel fruit with a lemony taste, but sweet enough to eat on its own as a dessert fruit. there are also various types of ‘mandora’(orange/mandarin) and tangelo(tangerine/grapefruit) available.

There another way of producing unusual fruit; ‘graft hybridising’; this process involves grafting two plants together and produces a ‘chimaera’, examples of this are CrataegoMespilus(Hawthorn and Medlar) and PyroCydonia(Pear and Quince), but I think these have more ornamental and curiosity value than culinary.