Fresh funds for cherry breeding

East Malling Research's (EMR's) cherry-breeding programme, for which Defra funding runs out next spring, could be saved by industry-raised cash.

Thanks to a decision made at a meeting at EMR last week (17 September), 20 or more growers and marketing organisation and retailer representatives have agreed to establish a company that will invest in the programme.

Dr Colin Gutteridge, the station's director, said that the next step is to prepare a prospectus for the proposed company and to seek the necessary funding.

"There was a great deal of enthusiasm (at the meeting) for forming a cherry-breeding company to take cherry breeding and the commercialisation of new varieties forward," he said. "There's a good chance of getting the required funding because a number of big players (in particular) recognise that the cherry sector has good prospects for growth, and there are relatively few breeding programmes in the world.

"The funding might not all come from the UK because our industry is quite small," he added. "There is interest (in investing in the company) from overseas ... Spain, Chile Australia and North America."

Gutteridge said he was fairly confident that the cherry industry (both in the UK and overseas) will raise enough money to keep the EMR programme going.

However, he doubted whether growers would be able to make a useful financial contribution unless six or more clubbed together to buy a shareholding in the new company.

He anticipated that the breeding programme would only be self-funding from royalties in the very long term - something that is understood by the prospective investors. But they are all keen to generate income from the new varieties produced by the programme.

All but one of the new English varieties launched in recent years have come from the John Innes programme that preceded EMR's, run by Ken Tobutt.

Although Tobutt's programme has so far introduced just one variety, Penny, several more will be introduced over the next three or four years, assuming the new company gets off the ground.

"The programme has been sort of focused on producing late black varieties but there is other material in the pipeline," said Gutteridge. "Defra will give EMR the rights to exploit its intellectual property, and that's what we'll put into the new vehicle."

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

How should fruit growers prepare for water abstraction reform?

How should fruit growers prepare for water abstraction reform?

Upcoming reforms to water abstraction licensing will for the first time cap the amount of water that fruit growers can take for trickle irrigation.

Getting a measure of the production labour crisis

Getting a measure of the production labour crisis

At a debate during last week's Fruit Focus trade show in Kent, senior industry figures painted a bleak picture of an increasingly difficult seasonal labour market that is already impacting on investment.

What will post-Brexit pesticides authorisation and capital support for fresh produce look like?

What will post-Brexit pesticides authorisation and capital support for fresh produce look like?

The likely impact on seasonal labour has dominated discussions of the consequences of withdrawal from the EU for UK production horticulture.

Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here

Professor Geoffrey Dixon

GreenGene International chair Geoff Dixon on the business of fresh produce production

Read Professor Geoffrey Dixon