Ralph ScorzaSupervisory Research Horticulturist at USDA
Dr. Ralph Scorza retired in 2016 from his position as Research Horticulturist and fruit breeder in the Genetic Improvement of Fruit Crops Research Unit at the USDA-ARS Appalachian Fruit Research Station, Kearneysville, West Virginia. His peach and plum breeding programs combined classical and molecular approaches to improve tree form, disease resistance, and fruit quality. Dr. Scorza and colleagues in the U.S. and Europe developed the genetically engineered Plum pox virus resistant plum cultivar ‘HoneySweet’, approved for commercialization in the U.S., and he currently works with an international team to submit ‘HoneySweet’ for cultivation approval in the European Union. He is a co-developer of the ‘FasTrack’ breeding technology, a novel breeding approach that significantly reduces the time required for developing new fruit tree varieties. Taking fruit tree growing beyond our planet he and his colleagues have worked with NASA to adapt miniature fruit trees for long distance space flight and for Mars colonization. Dr. Scorza has released 12 stone fruit varieties that are grown by commercial growers and home gardeners. Dr. Scorza is the co-inventor of 4 biotech patents, and authored over 200 research publications. He is a Fellow of the American Society for Horticultural Science, a recipient of the American Pomology Society Wilder medal in pomology, and in 2015 he was inducted into the USDA Science Hall of Fame. He is currently principal of Ralph Scorza LLC consulting in plant breeding and biotechnology.