EMR aims to set up 'serious commercial farming business'

Chief executive of East Malling Research (EMR) Dr Colin Gutteridge has told Grower of his plans to develop a "serious commercial farming business at East Malling".

Dr Gutteridge's plans will include trials of both organic and conventionally farmed crops directly funded by industry customers.

Speaking at the National Fruit Show last week, Gutteridge said he is close to a deal that will see industry backing for soft fruit crop trials, with an announcement expected in the next couple of months.

EMR also signed an agreement with Norman Collett earlier this month that will see the firm offer loan financing for four proposed intensive planting programmes for organically grown apples over four years from winter 2009.

Norman Collett technical director Nigel Jenner said the joint agreement would "help fill the organic marketing gap".

Gutteridge said the difficulties of growing conventional commercial apple varieties, together with the credit crunch, have "created a degree of reticence (in the industry) to increase organic production".

EMR has instead turned to alternatives including Rajka, Rubinola and Rubinstep, which have proved to have a broader disease resistance. Jenner said Norman Collett's selection is following a similar route with plans to introduce two Dutch varieties - Collina and Santana. Attento from France and Modi will also be included in the schedule.


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