BIFGA secures new fruit varieties for 21st-anniversary trial

At least 25 new fruit tree varieties and sports (new cultivar strains) are to be trialled by the British Independent Fruit Growers' Association (BIFGA) in the BIGFA 21 project.

The 10-year project to celebrate the association's 21st anniversary will see 10 trees of each of the new varieties planted next year at two sites in Kent - Hadlow College and Brogdale. It will also feature a smaller, sample plot at RHS Wisley in Surrey.

It is hoped that growers will visit the trial sites to get a feel for the new varieties.

After appealing for donations, BIFGA has received several offers in writing from two nurseries - JR Breach and FP Matthews - and the Farm Advisory Services Team (FAST), which has pledged to supply the new varieties for the project free of charge.

BIFGA chairman John Breach told Grower that the number of varieties and sports offered could reach 40 - four times the number originally reported (Grower, 12 June) - as the association finalises several more offers from other nurseries.

He said: "We contacted BIFGA associate members involved in the supply of fruit trees and they all responded very favourably."

Some of the varieties or sports on the list include, from FP Matthews, Scrumptious, Herefordshire Russet, Red Windsor and Limelight - and from JR Breach, Glamac, Fuji Fiero, September Wonder and Mariac La Flmaboyante. The varieties from FAST include Braeburn Hillwell, Braeburn NAKB, Fuji Beni Shogun and Gala Galaxy.

Meanwhile, FAST has offered to manage the site at Brogdale and provide technical input for it and the Hadlow College site.

Sponsorships - in the form of a donation, goods or services - are needed for the project.

- Contact BIFGA secretary Judy Perry on 01892 722080.

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