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The Proteaceae breeding programs had the largest impact in the floriculture industry. Breeding programs exist for the genera Protea, Leucadendron and Leucospermum and 84 cultivars (28 Protea, 28 Leucadendron and 28 Leucospermum) were released from these programs. Currently two cultivars are protected with Plant Breeders Rights internationally and 22 nationally. Various other ARC research projects in different cultivation fields supported these breeding programs to ensure profitable cultivation of Proteaceae.
Projects included research on sexual reproduction and flowering, protocols for hybridization, tissue culture protocols, fingerprinting, plant pathology, entomology, vegetative propagation protocols, soil preparation, optimum cultivation practices, pruning and leaf blackening. Bilateral agreements with INRA (France), the management of an EU funded project, funds from USDA, International Protea Association and the local Protea industry helped to fund some of these projects. These research results form the basis of today’s national and international Proteaceae industries and contributed significantly to the international scientific world.
Fynbos researchers published extensively, and publications in scientific and semi-scientific journals, books, proceedings etc., and presentations at international conferences led to the recognition of the Fynbos group as the leader in fynbos research in the 1990’s. Posters and booklets containing information on cultivars became popular with scientists, growers and the general public.The practical bilingual booklet ‘A guide to diseases & pests of commercial Fynbos in South Africa’ published in 2006 is very popular with commercial growers. Training courses attended by national and international growers led to a more scientific commercialization approach by growers and involvement in community development assisted communities to secure an income from Fynbos.
Researchers used the opportunity to obtain better qualifications and several M.Sc and Ph.D degrees were awarded on the research done of a relative unknown crop.
The ARC researchers played an important role in the establishment of Fynbos as an international commercial crop and today Proteaceae is established as a niche crop on the international floriculture market.