Malling's six new cherry varieties
Malling Cherry Ventures is moving forward to promote new cherry varieties developed at the renown breeding program located in East Malling, Kent, UK. The company is a joint venture between NIAB EMR, Berry Gardens Growers, and the Associated International Group of Nurseries.
Marzena Lipska, cherry-breeding program leader at NIAB EMR, recently chose six promising selections to advance to the grafting and propagation phase. This phase involves off-site trials, which help to determine how the genotype is going to perform under varying climates and conditions. “This decision was based on the performance of each variety over a number of years of trail at NIAB EMR," said Lipska. "These selections met several breeding objectives and satisfied market needs from early to very late season with exceptional fruit quality.
The process will begin with small tree planting trails in Belgium and the United Kingdom using trees propagated at the NIAB EMR facility. Additionally, René Nicolaï, a tree nursery and AIGN member located in Belgium, will receive scion wood from the breeding program where it will be grafted onto rootstocks in larger volumes. Due to the sensitive nature of scion wood, it must be carefully procured, stored and transported for successful propagation. The plant materials have passed through phytosanitary inspection in the U.K. and are expected to deliver to Belgium in the coming days. Young trees created by the propagation process will be returned, in part, to Berry Gardens Growers for larger test plantings in England, with the balance distributed to appropriate interested parties in Europe.
Before any of the selections can be exported outside of the United Kingdom and the EU, they are required to undergo screening at a High Health Center. The process to certify a stone fruit cultivar free from any plant virus is a careful and methodical series of steps which can take two to four years to complete, dependent upon the initial diagnosis and any treatment plan required. Three of the selections will proceed immediately to clean plant centers located in the United States and Australia. The remainder are expected to follow at a later date. Once the materials submitted for testing by the Malling Cherry Ventures group receive clean-plant status, they can be distributed into the AIGN member’s network for widespread global testing and evaluation.
“Progress of each selection will be managed using the proprietary database software owned by AIGN, known as Hertha,” said AIGN President Lynnell Brandt. This valuable tool will allow stakeholders in the project access to all data accumulated, by cultivar, over the course of the propagation and testing phase.
“No matter where in the world a trial takes place, the user can track shipping of test materials, view GPS site-map information for each test planting, as well as analyze a catalog of evaluations, both UPOV and standard, including photography," said Brandt. The Hertha system also issues and manages all licenses and testing agreement documentation with translation capability in multiple languages. After several years of groundwork, all parties in the venture are very pleased to move selections into this phase with the potential of producing some exciting, new cherry varieties for growers and consumers.