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Polish private berry-breeding program.

Private small berry breeding is very popular in the world. You could even say that the direction of this in recent years is gaining in importance. Private companies or consortia breeding invest in their work significant financial resources. More often they work with large groups-producing or trading companies, which provide the right to produce fruit variety. In this way the farmer can be sure to receive license fees and guaranteed exclusive group of growers to dispose of their distinctive fruit market the species. Such proceedings by some western companies can make it difficult for our producers access to the latest varieties (as is increasingly the case already with the club varieties of apple,
cherries and raspberries or strawberries). The solution can provide Polish private breeding companies - the first was established in May 2012. It is the Niwa Berry Plant Breeding Ltd. which is  located in Brzezna, the southern part of Poland. The people associated with science for many years, especially the cultivation and propagation nursery formed it. I asked Dr Jan Danek, Dr  Katarzyna Krol, Dr  Agnieszka Orzeł and Joanna Jagła from the Niwa company about the plans and tasks of the new entity breeding.


How did you come up with an idea of creating Niwa berry breeding company?

Jan Danek: The creation of our breeding company has forced  from the need, or the announced sale, or even close to the Fruit Experiment Station of the Institute of Horticulture, Brzezna Ltd. - the research station in which for many years has been running raspberry and blackberry breeding program. People who were involved in this work, wanted to continue it. We decided to cooperate with the young, but already very experienced employees to the new company have included the output of livestock in the form of strawberry varieties from the program, which I perform in the "Group Jagodnik" for several years. The financial assistance is extremely important is, as well as the experience that the newly formed company receives from the breeding nursery cooperating within the group. Our company will also cooperate with other breeding companies and nurseries that will be able to assist in the breeding of new varieties. However, we will focus on the work of the breeding, which is a priority for us.

Does private farming play an important role and in which direction should it develop?

Agnieszka Orzeł: The fact that in Poland we need to own a professional breeding company is by the fact that in Europe is already 46 such centres, including 26 private. In England alone, there are eight breeding companies, of which only two are centres of the state. The best example is a large American company Breeding Driscol's, which already has 19 varieties registered in the EU, as well as breeding on the continent. The company is also developing genetic tests to establish the basis for further development of culture. Variations of this company are patented and only certain groups of producers can enjoy them for the production of fruit and putting them on the market.

Jan Danek: I believe that genetic testing should be carried out also in  Poland, well if you take care centres of the state and have the necessary financial and personal resources of course. They should be such as biotechnology research, based on knowledge of the characteristics of the genetic code of plants, because not all phenotypic traits are revealed or manifested only after many years of observation and cultivation. Such research would help and may probably get faster growing varieties adapted to the climatic conditions of  Poland. We will also commission a study, which will allow us to include confirm the identity of the variety of our new creation. The breeding research should also include an association of producers or even the owners of large farms, which depends on the cultivation of new tailored to their needs change.

On which species will you focus the breeding program?

Katarzyna Król-Dyrek: We have the most advanced work on strawberries, but this is due to breeding of this species led by Dr Jan Danek under the "Groups Jagodnik". However, we will deal with the other species, such as raspberry, blackberry, black and color currants, blueberry, and  other less known, such as honeyberry (Lonicera). These are also some of the objectives of new running by our project "Preparation of varieties and breeding clones berry plants and assessment of their production values” that will subsidize our activities at an early stage. This two-year program will be implemented by the Małopolskie Centre of Entrepreneurship, action 2.2 "Commercialization of Research". The funds received can be used exclusively for research and may allow them to develop the initial breeding work.


How would you estimated three varieties of strawberries, which have been already released?

Jan Danek: There are a variety for those people who are looking for specific values. 'Ambrozja' is a great variety, whose fruits meet the requirements of selling non-intermediate, which has a taste - the fruits have a unique aroma and flavor of wild strawberries. The good yield of this variety requires proper fertilization and irrigation.

The longest on the market is 'Alpha Centauri', which - if somebody can take care of it in field crops, it can spend a lot of flowers. The plants are small and may seem a very large crop. They can be planted in significantly more dense or small (about 15 000 plants / Ha) and then you need to bring them to their natural concentration in  row. The holdings of our shareholders yields obtained in field cultivation of this variety exceed 30 t / ha. It should be used for a maximum of two sets, optimally - for one set, because then the best quality fruits should have no trouble with strawberry mite for whose it is sensitive. The advantage of this variety is a late ripening period - about two weeks after 'Elsanta' (bridges the gap between traditional varieties and repeated  fruiting). It has a very good quality fruit - extra class participation in complete set reaches 70-80%. By covering plants with a thick layer of straw in the winter, they can delay harvesting of one week.

 'Alioth' is a variety with a nice plants habit. Its fruits are somewhat similar to the 'Elsanta', however it is significantly less susceptible to the disease. In our experiments ‘Alioth’ yielded better than 'Elsanta'.

What are your strawberry breeding programs focus on?

Jan Danek: Our work in this field is divided into three groups. The first one is breeding varieties of the fruit  intended for industrial purposes. In this case we have a couple of promising clones that we test in farms producing fruit, in cooperation with  processing factories. Extremely  important for us is also the dessert traditionally fruiting varieties of late-maturing and this work relates to the second group. We also breed varieties repeated fruiting, but in this group it is very difficult to get a new variety. I want to see the change in our circumstances, there  only a small hedge plants froze or require for the winter. This allows you to get much higher yield than the varieties grown in  a one year cycle. Quite different parameters of these varieties are important  viewpoint such cultivation conducted under cover. I have to say that we have an interesting promising new clone breeding.

What about other important species such as the raspberry and blackberry?

Jan Danek: For us they are very important species in which we see a good chance of breeding. These works, however only begin, but with the experience and lucky, we should enter into commercial production interesting variety. In the raspberries case, for us it is important primocane fruiting ones.
Valuable should be also black raspberry with this type of fruiting. It would  be probably hit when it comes to raspberry fruit production and processing plants introduced into general cultivation in Poland may distinguish our growers in the international arena.

Agnieszka Orzeł: We also depend on getting the new primocane fruiting  blackberries which could be a breakthrough in Polish blackberry production.


What are your plans for the upcoming season?

Jan Danek: Now, we have a fully equipped in vitro laboratory in which we propagate virus free plants for our shareholders. We could also serve others farms to produce output nursery. We want to promote our varieties into the international market, that is why we decided to collaborate with Meiosis Ltd., who will represent our varieties abroad.


Joanna Jagła: As for strawberries, in production we already have three varieties: 'Alpha Centauri', 'Ambrozja' and  'Alioth'. We multiply the promising clones that will be used to set up experimental plots in our shareholders fields and may be also in other friendly manufacturers, fairly quickly to give us information about the value of these new  and  strawberries suitability for cultivation in different technologies. We will also try to fulfil orders from other nurserymen for propagation of plants from in vitro cultures.

Thank you.
Thomas Werner