Apple breeding


A new variety is subject to a wide range of demands

Consumers want crisp, juicy, flavourful and natural apples with good storage qualities and good keeping qualities at room temperature. Producers expect a variety to provide good, regular yields, good market opportunities, and resistance to diseases and pests. Fruit merchants, fruit sellers and nurserymen and -women also place demands on a variety.
All these expectations provide us with the breeding objectives - the point of departure for our breeding programme. 

Breeding is a demanding, step-by-step process  

  1. Definition of promising, future-oriented breeding objectives and the selection of suitable crossing parents.
  2. Annual selective pollination of 10,000 flowers of the mother varieties with pollen from the father varieties.
  3. Removal of some 10,000 apple pips from the crossed fruits in the autumn.
  4. Sowing of the removed pips the following spring; each pip theoretically constitutes a new variety.
  5. Selection on the basis of susceptibility to disease, growth characteristics and fruit quality over a period of several years. Agroscope works with the latest molecular methods to identify genetic traits.
  6. Storage trials, consumer and sales tests for evaluating market opportunities.

After 15 to 20 years, one in some 30,000 seedlings makes the grade and is christened as a new variety. Old varieties are also channelled into breeding to contribute valuable traits such as disease resistance, colour or taste nuances.

Agroscope’s most successful apple variety is ‘Milwa’, developed by crossing (Idared x Maigold) x Elstar in 1982. Milwa fruit is sold under the brand name of Diwa® in Switzerland, and under the name Junami® in Europe and worldwide. The range of Agroscope varieties currently encompasses ‘Ariwa’ , ‘Iduna’, ‘Galmac’, ‘La Flamboyante (Mairac®)’, the scab-resistant variety ‘CH101-Galiwa®’, the fire blight- and scab-resistant variety ‘Ladina’, and ‘Mariella’, an especially storage-friendly and firm-fleshed variety. Variety marketing is performed by VariCom GmbH, a company that was created especially for this purpose.