Specialty Crop Germplasm and Public Breeding Efforts in the United States

Thomas Orton, Albert Ayeni

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The United States Department of Agriculture/Agriculture Research Service/National Germplasm System (USDA/ARS/NGS) plant germplasm collections contain more than 600,000 different accessions of 16,289 species, including virtually all the ethnic and specialty crops of interest to United States (U.S.) agriculture. These and additional collections of plant seeds and asexual propagules are maintained at various laboratories and facilities geographically dispersed in the U.S. including NGS and many public land grant university institutions. The majority of these species fall under the definition of “specialty” crops since their utility is either narrow in scope or has not been fully developed. This paper summarizes the status of “specialty” and ethnic crop species germplasm in the U.S. including where the collections are maintained and how they are being used.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number239
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science


  • Dried fruits
  • Ethnic crops
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Germplasm
  • Horticultural food crops
  • Nursery crops
  • Small fruits
  • Specialty crops
  • Spices
  • Tree nuts
  • United States of America


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