Industry Representative: Nigel Kitney
AHDB Horticulture Cost: £116,922
Summary: The AHDB is currently a member of the EMRC along with the International New Varieties Network (INN). The club funds conventional rootstock breeding at EMR, comprising seedling generation and selection, preliminary trials and maintenance of mother trees. In addition, molecular markers are used to aid genotype verification and, published markers linked to traits of interest are being tested on our advanced selections to determine their suitability for marker-assisted breeding (MAB) in our germplasm. Additionally, second stage trials are in place at EMR to evaluate apple and pear rootstocks form our own and other programs for their suitability for UK conditions.
Aims and Objectives: The East Malling Rootstock Club (EMRC) aims to breed a range of superior apple, pear and quince rootstocks to suit different growing conditions and resistant to a range of pest and diseases, and to then distribute and commercialise them worldwide. In addition, promising rootstocks from the EM and other programs will be evaluated for commercial potential in the UK.
Project objective(s) – already agreed until 2020:
· Raise breeding progenies designed to combine desirable traits from each parent according to the breeding objectives
· Pre-select seedlings showing suitable combination of characteristics
· Set-up and evaluate preliminary trials to determine promising selections for multiplication and pest and disease resistance screening
· Characterise a range of advance selections for pest and disease resistance prior to distribution to partners
· Identify promising apple and pear rootstocks with a range of adequate vigour control—M.9 to M.116 for apple and EMC to EMA for pear— from the EM and overseas programmes
· Evaluate commercial potential of these promising rootstocks ensuring wider characterisation such as pruning requirements, pest and disease resistance or susceptibility and, whenever possible, their rooting ability
Benefits to Industry: UK growers will benefit from the development of superior rootstocks that will have controlled vigour, increased yield efficiency, pest and disease resistance. Medium-term benefits will include the release of a dwarfing apple rootstock, currently in the latest stages of trialling. European Plant Breeders rights and US-plant patents will be filed in 2014 for a 2015 released. Furthermore this proposal comprises the inclusion of 5-6 recent Geneva rootstocks in some of our preliminary trials for comparison thus providing HDC members with information on their performance in UK conditions. Access to rootstocks from other programs at the trial stage will be further facilitated by the closer involvement of INN in the second trialling stage as part of the unified project.