The production and marketing of pomaceous and stone fruit (apples, pears, cherries, plums, apricots) are facing major challenges. Changes in society and policy (the authorisation of plant-protection products (PPPs)), the market (residue-free produce, the organic segment, competing products) and production conditions (climate change, new invasive pests and pathogens, structural change, mechanisation and digitalisation) must be anticipated in order to prepare the Swiss fruit production sector for them. The choice of suitable varieties is a key element here, the specific knowledge of said varieties a prerequisite. The aim is for ‘Swiss Fruit’ to remain competitive in the long term.
Agroscope, FiBL and various variety networks are already testing international varieties (post-registration testing) as well as new Agroscope cultivars (pre-registration testing) in terms of agronomic suitability for cultivation and fruit quality. In order to meet new challenges, the existing testing infrastructure must be better coordinated, more intensively used, and expanded for new issues. The aim is to profitably exploit the digitalisation of the processes and innovative measurement technologies (NIR, chlorophyll, Colour Pin, ethylene production, smart image processing) as well as the latest developments in agricultural engineering.
The existing networks – the Expert Commission for Fruit Variety Testing, the Stone Fruit Varieties Team and the Organic Varieties Team should be strengthened and used, in order to improve the efficiency of variety testing, and in particular the latter’s impact on the entire value chain. The inclusion of all stakeholders in the value chain in this project is a future-oriented ‘first’ aimed at dealing with the challenges that lie ahead.