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NIWA-the first Polish private berry breeding programme

Niwa Berry Breeding Ltd. was officially established on May 2012. The company is located in Brzezna, a small village in the South Part of Poland. The company's shareholders are the owners of six nursery farms of the national and international range. They are with years of rich experience in the reproduction and breeding varieties of berry plants. Currently Niwa employs 13 people. Five of them are researches (Prof. Tit Włodzimierz Lech, PhD Jan Danek, Phd Agnieszka Orzeł, Phd Katarzyna Król-Dyrek, M Sc Joanna Jagła) with extensive experience in biology of flowering, breeding and evaluation varieties of berry plants. Niwa employs also 5 technicians to assist in the breeding and plant propagation. With many years of professional practice, they mastered the subject matter of culture and berry crops. They took part in national and international research projects. They collaborated with research organizations in the country and abroad in the study (including the Institute of Horticulture in Skierniewice, University of Agriculture in Krakow, Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Wroclaw University of Environmental, Agrarian Institute of San Michele (IASMA) in Italy, Fruit Research Institute Pitesti-Maracineni in Romania) carried out in earlier work (Fruit Experiment Station of Institute of Horticulture Brzezna Ltd.). The collaboration included the dissemination of species, varieties and production technology berry plants through relevant articles, training of domestic and foreign manufacturers as well.

Niwa is the first Polish private company with own berry breeding programmes. Every year there are planted about 40000 seedlings for further selection. The main goal of Niwa is to carry out work on strawberry, raspberry, blueberry and honeysuckle breeding dedicated to specific branches of processing and freezing fruits. The separate research is being done for obtaining all cultivars of these species on the market of fruit dessert. Niwa is the only private breeding company in Poland with such a broad spectrum of activity. The breeding program developed by the Niwa is the biggest in Europe in terms of number of species berry plants covered by breeding cultivars, the number of crosses made annually and the number of evaluated seedlings. The Company directs an offer to the nursery farms interested in obtaining licenses for new cultivars, mainly to the shareholders, but also to the other nurseries. The second company activity is production of super-elita plants, propagated in own tissue-culture laboratory. Niwa also cooperates with research institutions expanding their own skills and capabilities in conducting research. The results are published in popular journals, scientific and industry conferences.

Raspberry and blackberry breeding programme (R. idaeus L.)

The raspberry breeding program is conducted by PhD Agnieszka Orzeł. In the years 2001-2012 she participated in the breeding program of raspberries and blackberries, managed by PhD Jan Danek in the Fruit Experimental Station, Institute of Horticulture in Brzezna. She is the Co-author of six raspberry varieties: Radziejowa (2015), Sokolica (2015), Przehyba (2015), Polonez (2012), Poemat (2012), Litacz (blackrasperry) (2012) and six blackberry cultivars: Polar (2012), Gaj (2012), Ruczaj (2015), Brzezina (2015), Zagajnik (2015), Gracja (2015).

The raspberry and blackberry breeding program is devoted to floricane and primocane fruiting types within R. idaeus L. The primary objectives are: high quality fruit, good yields, suitability for fresh and processing market, machine harvesting ability, adaptation to Polish environment as well as improved pest and disease resistance. The first primocane raspberry cultivar released from this programme is ‘Delniwa’.

Currently, the main goal of Niwa’s raspberry, blackberry and strawberry breeding programme is usefulness of new varieties of raspberries for mechanical harvesting. This research is funded by the National Centre for Research and Development in the project: "Development of new varieties of berry plants (raspberry, strawberry, blackberry) for companies with increased biological and functional value, including reduced susceptibility to diseases and pests, with features of high profitability (including machine harvesting raspberry and blackberry fruit). The aim of the new project is obtaining industrial blackberry useful for mechanical harvest. This program is funded by the National Centre for Research and Development in the years 2016-2023 under the Operational Program Intelligent Development 2014-2020. Priority axis to support B+R work by enterprises. Action 1.1.1 B + R projects of enterprises. Industrial research and development works implemented by enterprises).

Progress in the raspberry and blackberry breeding programme Several clones were chosen from the seedlings selected from 2014-1015 crossing for in vitro propagation. They will be used to establish new experimental plots in pots under Haygrove tunnel in 2018. Clones dedicated to mechanical harvesting will be evaluated in field condition in 2018.

Black raspberry breeding programme

Based on germplasm and own raspberry collection in 2017 Niwa set up a new black raspberry breeding programme. The project is managed by dr Katarzyna Król-Dyrek. She has many years of experience in the evaluation of species, varieties, production technology and she had cooperated with breeding group to evaluate new clones and cultivars. This research is funded by the National Centre for Research and Development in the project: "Obtaining new varieties of black raspberries in the process of creative breeding and development of technology for targeted production fruit " Priority axis Support for B+R works by companies Action R & D projects of enterprises Subactivity Industrial research and development works by companies Application number: POIR.01.01.01-00-0005 / 17.

The aim of the project is to breed black raspberries suitable for growing in Polish climatic conditions, resistant to diseases, with limited spines on cane. It is assumed to grow varieties for dessert and for processing with machine harvesting possibility. Honeysuckle breeding programme

The honeysuckle breeding programme is runned by PhD Katarzyna Król-Dyrek. This project is granted by Regional Program of the Malopolska Region, “Development of new types of Honeysuckle adjusted to Polish climate conditions for processing with regard to their high health value; and development of simplified production technology. Research and innovation in enterprises. Research and development projects companies. RPMP.01.02.01-IP.01-12-028 / 17. The project is a response to the growing interest in new species – honeysuckle, due to the extremely high health and processing value of the fruit. In view of many foreign varieties present on the Polish market, but not fully suitable for growing in the Polish climate. It is important to breed native varieties that will have high yield, high quality and good yield and will be useful for machine harvesting. The strawberry breeding programme

The strawberry breeding programme is runned by PhD Jan Danek. PhD Jan Danek has many years of experience in breeding. He is widely known and respected raspberry breeder (14 varieties of his authorship, the breeding programme of the Institute of Horticulture in Skierniewice) blackberries (8 varieties, the breeding programme of the Fruit Experiment Station of Institute of Horticulture Brzezna Ltd.), strawberries (3 varieties from the breeding programme of “Jagodnik” group). Raspberry varieties of his authorship are about 70% of the Polish production. Especially raspberry cultivar 'Polka' has become a production in Poland and in many other countries, the standard primocane fruiting variety. Blackberry cultivars (3 thornless, with large fruit, frost resistant) prognosticate the chances on the development of production of this species in Poland. Three varieties of strawberries are entering the market now. Dr Danek was the head of the Research and Development Project NCBiR completed in 2010. Currently the maing goal of Niwa’s strawberry breeding programme is to obtain strawberry cultivar suitable for processing, especially freezing. This programme is granted by the National Centre for Research and Development.

In-vitro propagation laboratory

Niwa’s in vitro propagation laboratory is runned by MSc Joanna Jagla. MScJoanna Jagła, an employee of the Niwa berry breeding Ltd., has many years of experience in running in-vitro laboratory and in planting tissue culture propagation. She also supports a team of berry breeders. She is involved in evaluation of biology of flowering different species bred in Niwa.