Sustainably produced pipfruit for premium markets
Countries exporting pipfruit to premium markets rely on innovation to compete effectively with increased pressure from emerging low-cost producers such as China and South America. Meeting market access requirements is key for the pipfruit industry, coupled with increasingly stringent regulations and demands from premium consumers for environmental sustainability.
Plant & Food Research works with the pipfruit industry to develop integrated production systems that minimise the use of traditional chemical sprays for controlling pests and diseases. We develop integrated toolkits that use weather models to predict disease risk, and monitor insect pests and beneficial insects, allowing growers to spray only when required and appropriate during the season to reduce residues at harvest. We also investigate new methods of postharvest disinfestation that leave no residues and may reduce agrichemical residues applied preharvest.
Our pipfruit breeding programme target is to produce new apple and pear cultivars with characteristics of high consumer appeal – firmness, crispness, juiciness, good appearance and novel flavours – as well as increased resistance to pests and diseases. Our genomics research allows us to identify the genes controlling key traits and identify the most promising parents and offspring from these crosses based on their genetic profiles.