Monday, January 13, 2014

Oh, patents! Almond sweethearts!

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Although, living organisms are technically and legally un-patentable, the Plant Patent Act of 1930 allows for the patenting of plant varieties, in honor of the great American botanist Luther Burbank, father of countless plant varieties such as the “Santa Rosa” plum, the “Flaming Gold” nectarine, the “Russet Burbank” potato, the plumcot (a cross between the plum and the apricot), and a spineless cactus for feeding cattle!

Thus, in the tradition of Burbank, the Regents of the University of California filed for an Almond variety named “Sweetheart”  in patent US2008201808. Consistent with research on the health benefits of monounsaturated kernel oil, and in particular oleic acid, this variety of almond is engineered with a high kernel quality, also capable of acting as a pollen-producing plant for another California almond variety called “Nonpareil”. Indeed this is a true “Sweetheart” almond!

The abstract for US2008201808 is included below. There are no patent drawings, so only images of this marketed sweetheart are included!

Abstract US2008201808

An improved Prunus dulcis variety is provided that is well suited for serving as a replacement for the premium quality 'Marcona' variety (non-patented in the United States). A distinctive heart-shape kernel in combination with very high kernel lipid quality is displayed. Good bloom overlap is displayed with the widely-grown 'Nonpareil' variety (non-patented in the United States) and pollen is cross-compatible with 'Nonpareil' and all major California almond varieties. The tree exhibits an upright-spreading growth habit with good productivity. Desirable fruit and kernel characteristics for shelled and processed almond production are displayed.

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