SCRI raspberry breeding programme aims to develop resistance to root rot

The forthcoming goal for the Scottish Crop Research Institute (SCRI) raspberry breeding programme - led by senior raspberry breeder Nikki Jennings - is to breed resistance to raspberry root rot into the Glen series.

The aim is to help Scottish growers - particularly those who grow the fruit for processing. Crop losses in Scotland due to raspberry root rot, which is caused by the fungus Phytophthora fragariae var rubi infection, are around 20 per cent.

Overall, root rot is the most destructive disease to affect raspberries in the UK. It has particularly hit the Scottish processing crop, with much of the land traditionally planted to raspberries being so severely infected that no raspberries can now survive. The spores can survive in infected soil for 20 years or more - so resistant varieties are the only answer.

Jennings has some promising root-rot-resistant selections on trial at grower sites with severe infection levels - and so far she is confident that the first variety suitable for processing could be ready in two years.

Breeding a root-rot-resistant variety with all the flavour characteristics necessary for the fresh market looks like it could take longer - although the SCRI genetic marker work may shorten the wait (see p32).


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