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How International Fruit Genetics Is Taking Plant Breeding To the Next Level

December 6, 2022 | By David Eddy

Building a campus for fruit breeding is not only a practical move for International Fruit Genetics (IFG), it’s an appropriate metaphor for what’s happening in the world of fruit breeding: More fruit varieties are being developed in the private sector. Traditionally a province of Land Grant universities — think the ‘Honeycrisp’ apple, developed at the University of Minnesota — as money has dried up for these universities’ Extension programs. Breeding is not the priority it once was.

Chile cherry growers tour Cheery Moon orchards

November 11, 2022 |

Chile has become a key cherry growing region and recently, fruit breeding company IFG welcomed their growers in the orchards of Northern Chile, in the Ovalle, IV Region to show their Cheery Cherry™ varieties. In addition to the northern part of the country, this variety is also grown in Central Chile, San Vicente TT, VI Region.

In 2016, the first Cheery Cherry™ variety to be commercially planted were Cheery Moon™, and acreage for all Cheery Cherry™ varieties have expanded to 110 acres (44.34 ha) today. “Our varieties are unique because of their early harvest window and low chill hour requirements,” says Alwyn van Jaarsveld, IFG’s International Cherry Commercial Manager. The advantage of low chill is multifold as it allows cherries to be grown in regions that to date were less suitable or even unsuitable for their cultivation. In the last few years, strange weather phenomena globally have resulted in many fruit-growing regions experiencing hotter than normal temperatures. “Low chill cherries are much better adapted to such conditions and allow the opportunity to open the cherry season with amazing flavor and great eating experience. This has always been enticing, yielding value for customers and growers alike.”

Illegally grown grape harvest donated to aid nonprofit

October 26, 2022 | By THE PACKER STAFF

Proceeds from the sale of illegally planted grapes will support an organization that helps women who are victims of violence.

Bakersfield, Calif.-based International Fruit Genetics LLC had sought to end the unauthorized growing of its protected table grape varietal Sugar Crisp at a farm in Italy, according to a news release. A Court of Bari judge ruled Sept. 19 that the harvest could be donated to the nonprofit GIFAFFA Onlus, which was allowed to sell the fruit to a soft drink production company.

More than 45 tons of grapes were harvested from 2,284 plants subject to seizure by the court’s decision, the release said.

“Growing plants of any IFG proprietary grape variety without the permission of IFG infringes on our intellectual property rights as well as those of our licensees,” Andy Higgins, CEO of IFG, said in the release. “We will continue to enforce our policies to combat possible activities that violate our rights and those of our licensees.” He said the company is thankful for all who helped during the judicial process.

IFG launches probe into illegal Peruvian plantings of proprietary table grapes

October 21, 2022 | By Maura Maxwell

International Fruit Genetics and the Peruvian authorities have launched a probe into illegal plantings of IFG’s protected table grape varieties in the country.

The breeder is working with the National Institute for the Defence of Competition and the Protection of Intellectual Property (Indecopi) and the National Institute of Agrarian Innovation (INIA) in the city of Ica, to identify properties where there is unauthorised planting, cultivating or illegally collecting and selling of the IFG’s protected table grape varieties.

Among the IFG table grape varieties protected by the Peruvian National Registry of Protected Plant Varieties are Sweet Globe, Cotton Candy, Sweet Sapphire, and Jack’s Salute among others, which are duly registered as trademarks in the US and elsewhere.

Over 300 licensees and retailers attend table grape breeder's field days

October 19, 2022 | By

After a three-year hiatus due to pandemic travel restrictions, International Fruit Genetics LLC (IFG) welcomed nearly 300 international licensees, marketers and retail representatives in July and August to experience the company’s Field Days in person. This year’s events broke company records, with the highest attendance recorded in IFG’s Field Day history.

The overwhelming feedback from all who attended is that innovation and variety are crucial to the success of the international table grape industry. This means no gimmicks, just hardy, naturally bred table grapes with the essential texture (crispness and crunchiness) and an array of imaginative flavors that can appeal to a large international clientele of all ages and backgrounds.

New campus will allow table grape breeder to speed up innovation

October 11, 2022 | By:

Creating a flavor revolution. That is the mission of California fruit breeder IFG. “About 20 years ago, breeding programs were mostly focused on grower aspects, including tonnage, yield, color and timing,” says Andy Higgins, IFG’s CEO.

When IFG was established back in 2001, consumer experience became the leading factor in the company’s process of developing new varieties. “Our varieties need to tick all the consumer boxes, but also what growers are looking for. The demand of tomorrow’s consumer will be higher than today, and we will need to anticipate that.” An example would be breeding varieties that are more adaptable to an organic way of growing or to climate change. “It is a matter of enhancing positive traits and suppressing negative traits,” added Higgins.

McFarland fruit-breeding facility expected to attract talent, partner companies

August 7, 2022 | BY JOHN COX This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The research and development facility being built in the McFarland area by fruit breeder International Fruit Genetics LLC comes with hopes it will attract not just top scientific talent but also partner companies in the global push for plants that are better suited to extreme weather, drought, disease and labor shortage.

IFG had employee recruitment in mind when it designed the property's series of laboratories, including what would be Kern County's first private-sector, federally certified clean plant-growing facility. The facility's university-like campus was laid out for top biologists from around the country to "feel at home and motivated," CEO Andy Higgins said.

But that's not what Higgins was referring to when he said the company's vision was that "if you build it, they will come." He meant IFG expects to attract and collaborate with automation companies and those using sensor-based algorithms for optimizing moisture and sunlight.

California table grape industry members provide outlook for 2022 season

July 18, 2022 | By

The 2022 California table grape season is off to a solid start with similar volumes to 2021 expected, but high costs, the ongoing shipping crisis and the added challenge of inflation remain a cause for concern.

Industry experts told The Grape Reporter about their expectations for the 2022 California grape season.

President of the California Table Grape Commission Kathleen Nave said that current estimates for crop size this year stand at 95 million 19 pounds boxes, similar to last season’s volume of 95.2 million 19 pound boxes.

Although there was a frost in April and a colder spring than usual this year, Elena Aguaron, who is Commercial Manager for the Americas at International Fruit Genetics (IFG), insisted that volumes would not be heavily affected.

How climate change impacts the process of breeding new cherry varieties

July 5, 2022 | By

IFG started a cherry breeding program 21 years ago. With California being their home base, the company is focused on breeding cherries that are suitable for southern California’s climate. This means they need to flourish despite lower winter chill hours and need to do well with a higher amount of summer heat. “Through good and bad fortune, these past 21 years we’ve learned that global warming is a thing,” says Alwyn van Jaarsveld, IFG’s International Commercial Cherry Manager. “The California climate has become warmer and drier, but we’re on the right track bringing new varieties to market that are adaptable.”

US (CA): FruitWorks, a new research campus to develop fruit varieties

June 9, 2022 | By

The next time you bite into a table grape or a cherry and admire the flavor, size, and texture, think about FruitWorks/IFG, a research and development company located just outside of Bakersfield, CA. They have invested years in natural breeding practices to develop cultivars that are well-known for their resilience and adaptability and feature a worldwide licensing program that prevents overproduction.

FruitWorks/IFG are now building their dream campus on a 160-acre piece of land, complete with greenhouses provided by Agra Tech.

At the center of its new campus, there are three Agra Tech greenhouses featuring a grow house range consisting of three gutter-connected Solar Light 36' x 156' greenhouses with 12' eaves totaling 16,848 sq. ft. that includes positive pressure cooling, air circulation, and insect exclusion, as well as benches, energy curtains, a control system, and a watering boom in the Insulator greenhouse.