Surrey

East Malling scientists develop new strawberries

New varieties of strawberry which are resistant to extreme weather have been developed by scientists in Kent.

Experts at East Malling Research (EMR) have created versions of the fruit which are better at coping with higher summer temperatures and less rainfall.

The research project, part funded by the government, is designed to help UK growers satisfy demand for strawberries between April and October.

The new varieties include the names Vibrant, Sweetheart and Cupid.

Dr David Simpson, from EMR, said: "Consumer demand for fresh strawberries in the UK has been growing year-on-year since the early 1990s.

'Desirable traits'

"The future will be challenging due to the impacts of climate change and the withdrawal of many pesticides.

"But the breeding programme at EMR is using the latest scientific approaches to develop a range of varieties that will meet the needs of our growers for the future and the demands of the British consumers."

The new strawberries are bred by crossing UK and international varieties that contain desirable traits such as being disease resistance, high productivity and temperature tolerance.

They will be on supermarket shelves next summer.

A consortium of seven industry partners, which formed the Strawberry Breeding Club, helped pay for the project along with the Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (Defra).

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