Soft Fruit: Focus on the Future
Thank you for your interest in our soft fruit breeding programmes and services.
The James Hutton Institute is a centre of soft fruit genetics research and the results of the research are applied within commercially-funded breeding programmes, for the production of improved cultivars for the UK fruit industry.
Read on for more about the Hutton groups' soft fruit activities including breeding programme updates for raspberry, blackberry and blueberry and project information for honeyberry, cherry and blackcurrant.
James Hutton Limited manages the breeding programme of the Raspberry Breeding Consortium (RBC); a partnership of growers, marketing groups, propagators, AHDB and Scottish Government. Find out more about the Raspberry Breeding Consortium.
Among three raspberry varieties James Hutton Limited released to soft fruit growers in 2020, Glen Mor is the floricane raspberry variety the industry has been waiting for, with genetic marker Rub118b conferring resistance to raspberry root rot, Phytophthora Rubi. READ MORE ...
Glen Carron came from a cross made in 2004. Immediately striking the consortium as different to anything seen before, Glen Carron began trials in 2010, before official release in 2018. It is a specialist early variety producing a high proportion of Class 1 fruit with a sweet flavour and stunning appearance. Highly suited for long-cane production. READ MORE ...
Lewis and Skye are the first primocane raspberry varieties to be released from the Raspberry Breeding Consortium, leading to a decision to break from the traditional ‘Glen’ prefix for Hutton bred raspberries and instead, the new primocanes take their name from Scottish islands.
Skye is a double-cropping variety which shows consistent high quality in both summer and autumn crops. The autumn fruit starts picking between Kweli and Kwanza in trials at the James Hutton Institute and produces long straight cane which begins crops again in early summer, producing large, sweet fruit with low acidity and notes of vanilla. Like Lewis, Skye deplugs easily at a pink colour stage therefore has a high picking efficiency. READ MORE ...
Lewis crops in early autumn with similar picking dates to Polka and Imara. It produces very large, glossy fruit which deplugs easily, filling punnets quickly. Lewis’ brixo is high, leading to a sweet and aromatic vanilla flavour and the variety is very consistent in all aspects – fruit size, high yields and quality and especially in feedback. Lewis has always scored highly in tastings and retailer feedback has been excellent. READ MORE ...
Launched in August 2017, James Hutton Limited manages a Blueberry Breeding Consortium, offering a blueberry breeding programme which in time, will deliver new and improved blueberry varieties, suited to European growing conditions and carrying traits desirable to growers, retailers and consumers. READ MORE ...
Blackberry germplasm has been hybridised, selected and developed at the Institute since the early 1960s and has produced highly successful varieties such as Loch Ness and Loch Tay. Launched in January 2018, our blackberry breeding consortium, is building on extensive underpinning research into blackberry genetics at the James Hutton Institute.
A Knowledge Transfer Partnership between the James Hutton Institute, James Hutton Limited and the Scottish Honeyberry Cooperative aims to create a new ‘superfruit’ industry in Scotland and turn the country into a world leader in the cultivation and processing of honeyberries.
Due to their agronomic qualities such as winter hardiness, frost, and pest and disease resistance, honeyberries (Lonicera caerulea) have the potential to become the ‘fifth’ berry amongst the commercially grown fruits in Scotland after strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries.
However, since the crop has not been previously grown commercially in Scotland, its understanding in terms of agronomic requirements is limited however, Knowledge Transfer Partnership associate, Dr Louise Gamble, has spent the last three years studying honeyberry in the field and also its nutritional benefits in the laboratory. Honeyberry juice has been analysed showing exceptionally high levels of antioxidants in comparison to a range of other commonly eaten superfruits. She has also been involved in market research and seeking opportunities for product development to generate a step change in the Scottish fruit industry.
Dr Gamble says, “The challenge will be to prove production to be economically relevant, stable, reliable and of a superior quality and provenance to other honeyberry fruit that might influence future markets through import channels. Sharing existing knowledge and developing new expertise is essential, particularly considering variations in size, quality, environment pressures and growing capacities.” She also stated the importance of continuing to develop honeyberry varieties specific for growing in Scotland. ‘We have already started crossing honeyberry varieties at the JHI and these will be assessed this year prior to further crossing next year’
The Scottish Honeyberry Cooperative was formed in response to the increasing interest of growing honeyberries in Scotland. Initial introduction began in 2015 with a cooperative forming in 2017. There is now over 100 acres being grown across Scotland with aims to establish healthy orchards to produce premium berry products for the food industry and eventually enter the fresh berry market.
Blackcurrant breeding at the James Hutton Institute began in 1956 and the programme has developed to become one of the world’s largest for Ribes, with the 'Ben' series of cultivars now grown commercially worldwide. At the present time, it is estimated that Institute cultivars occupy over 95% of the UK cropping area and around 50% of the global area.