Fruit for a global future: New dessert apple breeding programme at East Malling

Contract signingA new apple variety (scion) breeding programme, bringing together researchers, plant breeders and producers, is to begin at East Malling in Kent, it was announced today at Fruit Focus (the fruit industry trade show).


An industry-led consortium, involving Worldwide Fruit Ltd and East Malling Services, will direct the selection, trialling and evaluation of promising material, which will be underpinned by a pre-breeding research programme to develop markers for fruit quality and durable disease resistance at East Malling Research (EMR).


The long-term programme will maximise the worldwide commercialisation of newly developed varieties that will be chosen for their:


  • Excellent fruit quality and flavour
  • Main season fruiting
  • Storage ability and long shelf life
  • Pest and disease resistance- especially fungal canker
  • Tree architecture suitable for modern cropping systems


Tony Harding, Technical Director at WorldWide Fruit Ltd, commented, “It is tremendous that the rejuvenated UK apple sector is now looking forward to the point of funding the breeding of exciting new varieties. Through the world-leading science at East Malling Research, the consortium is looking to produce great new varieties that meet the consumers’ requirements for flavour, appearance and texture, whilst being suited to sustainable UK and global apple production.”


The science at East Malling will be led by geneticist, Dr Richard Harrison, who commented, “Modern science can dramatically improve the efficiencies and outputs of traditional breeding programmes. This new programme can be distinguished from other commercially-orientated breeding programmes, by having direct access to strategic science. This partnership will ensure the industry will breed commercially successful varieties with strong resilience to both climatic and pest and disease challenges.”



Notes to Editors:


  1. Further information for journalists can be obtained from Ross Newham, Head of Communications, East Malling Research, via or 01732 843833.


  1. East Malling Research (EMR) is an independent provider of research and consultancy serving the food chain and other sectors of the land-based industry. EMR builds on 101 years’ experience of successfully delivering cutting edge research and development to industry.


  1. East Malling Services is a wholly owned commercial subsidiary of East Malling Research. Building on this technical base, it offers knowledge differentiated services to trial growing media, crop health and nutrition and provenance, as well as expert technical support and development activity in crop irrigation, fruit breeding and integrated crop management.


  1. Worldwide Fruit Ltd is an international fruit marketing and distribution Company specialising chiefly in the supply of apples and pears to major UK multiple retailers. WFL source products globally ensuring continuity of supply 365 days of the year.


  1. Molecular markers are fragments of DNA that are associated with a certain location within the genome. Molecular markers are used in biology as pointers towards the presence, or not, of desirable traits, such as resistance to a specific disease. The information can then be used to select the best parent plants within a breeding programme or to see if the seedlings have inherited the desired gene combinations from the parents. (Note: No part of this programme will involve producing GM crops.)


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