David Shapley
A leading soft fruit specialist is stepping up its strawberry breeding programme with a half a million pound boost.
Dr Ronnie McNicol, MD of ReDeva, said the move meant its breeding programme would come up with varieties which cropped far longer and more evenly.
He said: "We intend to reduce drastically the timescale from nine to 14 years down to five or six whereby promising new fruit becomes available."
Denis Punter, chief executive of parent company Redbrige Holdings, said it was investing £500,000 to develop the programmes. The work is so well advanced near Hull, where 17,000 plants, each with unique characteristics defining shape, colour, taste and yield are being evaluated, that ReDeva will be inviting its multiple customers to see for themselves this summer. The selection is reduced to 400 in the first year and trialled further in the next two seasons.
ReDeva was set up only a year ago by Redbridge Holdings, which bought a major Israeli breeding programme from GYO International. The benefits are already allowing it to fast-track development in Egypt where the Suzanna variety has already shown promise.
Other sites will be established in Spain next year.
The company will also be providing the 68 British growers which operate under the associated Summer Fruit Company with the potential to grow exclusive varieties.
At the same time ReDeva is conducting its own consumer tastings. Punter said: "We are beginning to create a unique database for the benefit of our multiple customers and growers. The tighter the variety spec, the easier our job becomes."