Dr. Jaroslav Tupy passed away recently, but his legacy continues in the golden, sweet Opal apple.
Once asked about his achievement in the breeding of new apple varieties, Dr. Jaroslav Tupý answered in his modest way with a simple statement: “You know, varieties are created by nature”. June 10, 2016, Europe lost one of the most talented, innovative and respected apple breeders ever.
Dr. Jaroslav Tupý was born in 1929 in Uzhgorod, which today is in the Ukraine. He studied at the Agricultural Mendel University in Brno, Czech Republic until 1953.
Tupý specialised in plant physiology and pollen research. He was a scientist with the idea to translate scientific results into practice. During his career he published about 150 research papers.
In 1955 he started, together with a team and the Louda family, his breeding activities out in the countryside in Střížovice, 90km north of Prague. The station would have been closed already in 1965, without his passion to convince the Institute of Experimental Botany AS CR to invest into a long term program.
Until today more than 50 varieties have been released from the station of Střížovice, protected by Plant Breeder’s Rights.
Tupý also worked, between 1967 and 1971, on scientific projects concerning the physiology of rubber trees in Cambodia, Vietnam, Cameroon and Ivory Coast. He had great language skills – speaking English, German and French fluently.
However, Tupý was not renowned only for his scientific skills. He negotiated and drafted himself agreements for the release of new varieties with an incredible memory related to details. His personal network grew over time, and in the late 70s more and more people visited the breeding station of Střížovice in order to see the variety collection.
Based on his ideas and vision, Tupý created new breeding cycles over decades. He combined disease tolerance with storage ability and flavor with an attractive look – Something the market is looking for today as well as for tomorrow.
This genius intuition resulted in varieties such as ‘Topaz’ which today with 1,000ha is the most planted scab-resistant apple variety in Europe. In 1991 Dr. Tupý and his team made crosses between Golden Delicious x Topaz, which resulted in varieties like ‘Luna’, ‚’Sirius’‘ and ‘Orion’.
Out of this range also ‘UEB 32642’ OPAL® has been selected which accounts today for worldwide plantings of 510ha. A new variety called ‘Bonita’, a cross between ‘Cripps Pink’ x ‘Topaz’ is just taking off as well.
In 2009, Tupý started to pass on his legacy to his successor, Ing. Radek Černý in order to continue his work in a sustainable way. People will remember Dr. Jaroslav Tupý as a great personality who treated life and people with respect.
This tribute was prepared by Ing. Radek Černý of the Institute of Experimental Botany AS CR and Michael Weber of webfruit GmbH.