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Extending the season of stone fruit by breeding late-ripening cherries and early-ripening plums - HH3717STF

This project aims to provide UK growers with improved selections of late ripening cherry and medium-early and medium-late ripening plum, to develop novel cherry breeding lines with greater pest and disease resistance, and to use molecular markers to aid the cherry breeding programme and to determine the incompatibility groups of new cultivars. The UK acreage of stone fruit is approximately 1700 ha and the wholesale value of the crop can reach £15 million. In the case of cherry, the breeding work will make use of late-ripening breeding lines, interspecific hybrids and tetraploid forms developed at East Malling, by making crosses followed by selection in the field. The marker work involves developing and mapping a set of cherry microsatellites, detecting particular markers linked to leafspot resistance in segregating interspecific progenies and using PCR primers developed at East Malling to determine the incompatibility genotype of cultivars being considered for planting by UK growers. Only a limited programme of breeding and selecting will be carried out on plum. In addition to papers and presentations, an important vehicle for the transfer of technology to the UK industry will be the Stone Fruit Club. Promising selections of cherry and plum will be passed to the Stone Fruit Club for replicated trial and evaluation; and the incompatibility genotyping will be conducted on varieties in Club trials. The effective collaboration by the Club and DEFRA project is demonstrated by the recent release of ‘Penny’, a late-ripening, regular cropping cultivar with large, black, firm fruit. The work is fully consistent with DEFRA’s policy for sustainable horticulture. The ROAME As for the Horticulture AUs specifically indicate support for research on breeding for pest and disease resistance and for improved quality using conventional and genome-based techniques in fruit.

1. To breed and select large-fruited, late-ripening cherry selections for grower-funded trial
Promising selections identified for Stone Fruit Club trial
Progenies raised for selection
2. To introgress pest and disease resistance from interspecific breeding lines into sweet cherry
Hybrids, and perhaps backcrosses, screened for resistance to leaf spot and genetics clarified
Resistant selections backcrossed to large-fruited selections to introgress resistance into sweet cherry
3. To raise interspecific progenies of sweet cherry at tetraploid level
Sweet sour cherry progenies raised for evaluation of vigour, blackfly resistance, ripening season and fruit quality
4. To identify and apply molecular markers to benefit of cherry improvement programme
Microsatellite library of cherry developed and informative primers designed
Marker for resistance to leaf spot identified to avoid need for resistance screening
5. To breed and identify large-fruited red plum selections ripening between ‘Opal’ and ‘Victoria’ or between ‘Victoria’ and ‘Marjorie’s Seedling’ for grower-funded trial
Promising individuals selected from existing seedlings passed to Stone Fruit Club for trial
Progenies raised for selection of large-fruited red medium-early or medium-late plums
6. To transfer technology to the industry
Late ripening cherry and medium-early or medium-late ripening plum selections propagated for Stone Fruit Club trials
New cherry cultivars and selections in Stone Fruit Club trials genotyped for incompatibility alleles so appropriate pollinators can be recommended
7. To review progress of project
Annual meetings held with DEFRA project officer

Objective 5 (plum improvement) is independent of the first four, although it should benefit from experience in breeding and selection gained in objective 1 (late ripening cherries) and from marker experience gained in objective 4 (cherry markers). Objectives 1 (late ripening cherries) and 2 (interspecific hybrids) proceed in parallel at first, although towards the end of the project it is desirable to bring the two breeding lines together. Objectives 1 (late ripening cherries), 2 (interspecific hybrids) and 3 (tetraploid hybrids) should all benefit from objective 4 (cherry markers), e.g. for clarifying inheritance patterns. Objective 4 (cherry markers) will depend to some extent on the availability of progenies from objective 2 (interspecific hybrids). Much of objective 6 (technology transfer) comprises the transfer to the Stone Fruit Club of selections identified in objectives 1 (late ripening cherries) and 5 (plum). Objective 7 will consider progress in the other six.

The details of the restructuring of HRI following the Quinquennial Review are still unknown and its potential impact on the achievement of objectives is likewise unknown. The success of crossing in the spring (objectives 1, 2 and 3) can be reduced by rain or frosts, in perhaps two years out of five. However, we have potted trees available of many of the parents and can make the crosses in a frost-proof greenhouse. The tetraploids to be used for crossing with sour cherry (objective 3) have only recently left in vitro culture and we cannot be certain when they will begin flowering. We will work them on to dwarfing rootstocks with a view to reducing their vegetative period.

Project Documents
• Final Report : Extending the season of stone fruit by breeding late-ripening cherries and medium-early and medium-late plums   (280k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2003

To: 2008

Cost: £470,625
Contractor / Funded Organisations
East Malling Research, Horticulture Research International
Allocated - EMR              
Sustainable Farming and Food              
Fields of Study