A partnership has been formed to boost organic English apple production. East Malling Research and marketers Norman Collett have signed a deal under which 10.5 hectares of additional organic apple trees will be planted. EMR already has some 6.5ha of organic fruit in production.

Collett will offer loan financing for four intensive planting programmes over four years from 2010. The deal will also include other varietal trials on behalf of the industry to find apples that can be grown organically on a commercial scale. Cox, Gala and Braeburn are regarded as particularly difficult to grow organically.

Alternatives could include eastern European apples such as Rubinstep, Rubinola and Rajka, which have broader disease resistance and are suited to the UK climate, said EMR chief executive Colin Gutteridge. There are also plans to introduce Dutch Collina and Santana, as well as French bicoloured Attento.