The future prospects of the UK commercial cherry growing industry have been given a boost after a decision allowing the continuation of a cherry breeding programme at East Malling Research (EMR).
As a result of an agreement between marketing organisation Univeg Katope UK (Univeg), The Associated International Group of Nurseries (AIGN) and EMR, scientists will undertake a breeding programme designed to develop new varieties of sweet cherries.
The team will be led by Felicidad Fernandez, a plant breeder and molecular geneticist at EMR. The work will continue the historical cherry-breeding programme at EMR and develop cultivars to be trialled and evaluated worldwide, with the aim of producing new commercial varieties.
Univeg's Richard Isaacs said: "We are absolutely delighted to have signed this agreement with EMR and AIGN. While we are very realistic about the timescales involved in breeding cherries, the programme at East Malling already has some promising material and we do ultimately hope to be offering some outstanding new varieties to the growers working with us in the UK and around the world."
EMR chief executive officer Mike Solomon said: "This agreement will see all of us play to our collective strengths through our breeding, AIGN's extensive network of nurseries around the world and Univeg's knowledge of the marketplace."
AIGN chief executive officer Gavin Porter added: "AIGN is very excited to be a part of this new development. With the long history of expertise that EMR brings to the table and the tremendous coverage and marketing knowledge that Univeg contributes, we are certain that there will be many valuable outputs that will be realized from this project."
Univeg is an international fresh produce company with a UK base in Lincolnshire. It supplies fresh fruit and vegetable products to major retail, food service and wholesale companies in the UK.
The Associated International Group of Nurseries is network of nursery companies from around the world that coordinates efforts to introduce and commercialise new root stocks and varieties.