A headlong race in research programmes

The apple sector is one of the most vibrant in the world regarding research.

Currently, there are around one hundred breeding programmes all over the world. Never before have there been so many ongoing studies as there are at present.

However, this long-distance race to obtain improved varieties increases the risk about decisions being made which, at some point, could be inappropriate or irrational. According to the researcher Walter Guerra, from Laimburg, one of the pioneering centres in the world: “We must act cautiously and intelligently to make decisions that bring the best results to the apple sector, which has very important economic links for many European regions, particularly in South Tyrol and which, in the long term could be more detrimental than beneficial.”

At present, over 50 apple varieties are being handled, planted out over 22,000 hectares. The great question lies in knowing how many of them will finally find a place in the sector.

Some of the projects that are causing the greatest enthusiasm in the world of research involve the red-fleshed varieties. Under the common umbrella of a single logo, different companies have grouped together to achieve greater brand penetration for the end consumers. In total, there are 4 projects in progress. The first of them, Redlove has 110 hectares around the world with the Luresweet variety, which is resistant to scab. The second, called Redmoon, will shortly reach 100 hectares of surface area with the varieties RM1 and RS1. France and Italy are the two main defenders of this programme. In third place, Kissabel, with partners on the four continents, is without any doubt, the most ambitious project in geographical terms. Its R201 and Y101 varieties are resistant to scab. This programme also involves another two apples that are not scab-resistant. The last project is being developed in the United States with the recently launched Lucyrose and TC3Lucyglo varieties.

Resistance to scab

One of the most vitally important subjects lies in the search for and obtaining of future varieties that are resistant to scab. Currently, there are around 8,500 hectares of surface area of apple trees that hold this resistance being evaluated. However, “with the goal being greater environmental sustainability, this amount must be constantly increased.”

While this research is going on and the results are started up commercially, the variety distribution in Europe is as shown on the following tables.

The world forecasts (2025) for the queen of apples, the Golden Delicious, are worth mentioning. These show a 5% decrease. The same is occurring with the varieties Red Delicious, Idared and Granny Smith. The Gala and Cripps Pink or Pink Lady varieties are better placed with increases of 9% and 13%.

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