In an effort to implement marker-assisted breeding in Rosaceae, many traits need to be characterized in diverse germplasm. The USDA-NIFA Specialty Crop Research Initiative-funded RosBREED project includes breeding programs of four Rosaceae crops (apple, peach, cherry and strawberry). Phenotyping each crop for specific horticultural and commercial traits is an important process needed to translate genomic knowledge through marker-assisted breeding into enhanced breeding efficiency. These data will directly aid in the identification of quantitative trait loci or marker-trait associations that will be used to assist breeding programs in the future. Large-scale, standardized phenotyping protocols have been set up for each crop. The standardized phenotyping protocol for strawberries was agreed upon by the breeding teams in Oregon, Michigan, New Hampshire, California and Florida and includes four trait categories: phenology and other flower-related traits, plant characteristics, fruit characteristics, and fruit chemistry traits. We describe how each of the traits in the categories was evaluated. A summary of mean values for 37 traits of the genotypes planted at the RosBREED locations in 2011 and 2012 is provided. The phenotypic data for widely used founder germplasm that has contributed to current cultivars is available through the “Breeders Toolbox” at the Genome Database for Rosaceae (http://www.rosaceae.org/breeders_toolbox).
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