Malling Cherry Ventures is the joint venture between NIAB EMR of Kent in England, their funding partner Berry Gardens Growers Ltd (BGG) and the Associated International Group of Nurseries (AIGN®). The collaboration between the companies began nearly two years ago with the aim to develop cherry varieties of outstanding fruit quality that are adapted to intensive orchards. Season extension (both for early and late ripening), novelty types and improved storage ability are some of the main breeding targets. The purpose of Malling Cherry Ventures is to promote cherry selections released by the NIAB EMR breeding program via AIGN’s world-wide network of nursery companies and commercialization program.
The research station at East Malling is well known in the horticultural community for their work in the development of controlled atmosphere storage and for their releases of dwarfing rootstocks of apples. Known as the Malling Series, and followed by the Malling Merton series, these growth-controlling rootstocks revolutionized orchard structure in the 1980’s and they are now the main rootstocks used in orchards round the world.
Following the withdrawal of public funding for tree fruit breeding in the UK, the East Malling Cherry Group was formed in 2010 to utilize the existing germplasm pipeline at East Malling and engage
in further breeding In 2018 Berry Gardens Growers Ltd became a member of this group together with NIAB EMR and the Associated International Group of Nurseries (AIGN), led by Marzena Lipska. As the head of the cherry breeding program, Lipska is responsible for all decisions about crosses, selections and trials. Once a selection passes through the initial phases and small scale trials of natural cross-breeding, the venture’s other two partners, BGG and AIGN, begin the process of commercialization of the newly released cultivar. Commercialization includes intellectual property protection, marketing and licensing as well as large scale propagation of new fruit trees.
BGG is a grower-owned co-operative providing sales and marketing services to its members. They financially supports the cherry breeding program at East Malling and promotes its selections to their growers. Outside of the United Kingdom, AIGN® employs their extensive network of member-nurseries to test the selections in different cherry growing regions around the world, and then propagate, protect and promote the selections.
AIGN® brings to the collaboration the benefit of their trademark database program, Hertha™. Hertha™ facilitates the tracking of numbered selections in trials, maps the plantings and collects data and evaluations of the fruit. It also tracks benchmark registrations, holds contracts and manages timelines for trademark applications and deadlines.
A number of elite crosses, derived from the breeding program, will be distributed amongst the Malling Cherry Ventures partners in the near future in order to begin evaluation of the cultivars throughout the world.