The national programme for strawberry breeding has been based at East Malling since 1983. The programme has been successful in releasing 39 varieties for all sectors of the strawberry industry since 1988, with over 250 million plants of these varieties being sold, mostly in the UK and Northern Europe but also in more distant territories such South Korea and the USA.
Since 2008 the breeding programme has been funded via the East Malling Strawberry Breeding Club (EMSBC) which currently consists of investment from both public (Horticultural Development Company) and private companies (BerryGardens Growers Ltd., CPM Retail Ltd., East Malling Services Ltd., Mack Ltd. and Meiosis Ltd.). The programme aims to continue to deliver new, improved varieties to meet the challenges of production in the 21st century. These are being achieved by a number of objectives, but broadly by:
- developing a range of June-bearers and everbearers with overlapping seasons to provide excellent fruit quality over a prolonged period
- producing high-yielding cultivars with large fruit size and low percentage waste
- improving disease resistance
The EMSBC breeding programme also benefits from a number of allied strategic projects at EMR. These have led to the development of a breeding strategy for cultivars adapted to programmed-cropping system, and there are currently projects in progress that to identify molecular markers for resistance to a number of diseases that will feed results directly into the breeding programme.
To find out more about the East Malling Strawberry Breeding Club, please contact Adam Whitehouse via email@example.com.