Each collaborating institution agreed to produce seed from three hybrid crosses involving their best clones, or six clones in NLU Vietnam's case, so that at least 200 trees of each hybrid could be established in each participating institute. To date, over 15,000 hybrid seeds and budwood from six clones, have been exchanged and the evaluation of these crosses is currently underway. Some very promising clones have already been identified and these are now ready to be evaluated at one field location for direct comparison of their yields and quality.
Key learnings from the initiative have been that it is necessary to address legislative and administrative issues concerning the exchange of germplasm, including Material Transfer Agreements and quarantine requirements, at the earliest stage to avoid losses of material due to delays caused by problems in the paperwork. The next phase of the project will involve the introduction of materials that have resistance to Witches' Broom and Frosty Pod (Monilia) diseases and also the evaluation of potentially very valuable parental types for productivity and quality attributes with the emphasis on flavour.
The cocoa collection at ICCRI
Partner institutes have agreed a common protocol to assess pod hardness, which is likely to be a key factor in resistance to Cocoa Pod Borer, a pest which causes heavy losses in many parts of the region. Each institute is using a hand-held penetrometer and standardised methodology to assess hardness. Though it has been found that hardness is not always well correlated with field resistance, and data on hardness for the same clone differs between institutions, the technique is reasonably consistent at each site and can be used for local evaluation and ranking of clones.
Testing pod hardness