Growing Futures

A raspberry ripe for picking

A raspberry ripe for picking

New cultivars add value to the raspberry industry and reduce disease pressure

The Pacific North West of the USA is one of the largest process raspberry production areas in the world, producing 45,000 tonnes per year, around 10% of the global raspberry harvest. Cultivars traditionally grown in the area, such as ‘Meeker’ and ‘Willamette’, have shown decreasing productivity due to disease susceptibility, and growers must replace plants on a regular basis to remain economically sustainable.

A new cultivar for the region

Bred in New Zealand, the new ‘Wakefield’ cultivar was first planted in Washington State in 2009. ‘Wakefield’ demonstrates increased tolerance to Rubus Bushy Dwarf Virus and resistance to root rot. The flavoursome fruit is firm, making them ideal for machine harvesting and for processing as Individually Quick Frozen (IQF) products which earn a premium in the market.

In 2012, the first commercial harvest in Washington of 250 hectares of ‘Wakefield’ raspberry yielded 20% more fruit than competitors, with a higher percentage of fruit suitable for premium IQF processing. The benefit to growers has been estimated at US$11,000 per hectare. By 2017, it is estimated that 910 hectares of ‘Wakefield’ will be planted in the region, increasing grower profitability by US$10 million over current cultivars.

A successful partnership

‘Wakefield’ has been commercialised in the USA through a partnership with the Northwest Plant Company. Initially acting as the US licensee for Plant & Food Research’s raspberry and other Rubus cultivars, the partnership with Northwest Plant has now resulted in the establishment of a joint venture company, Pacific Berries LLC. Intellectual property for new cultivars is assigned to the joint venture, with royalties returned which contribute to the breeding of new varieties tailored to the North West Pacific region.

Our raspberry breeding programme is underpinned by investment from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and Plant & Food Research, with product development investment from Northwest Plant Company.

Created: September 2013

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