James Hutton Institute teams up with Scottish Society for Crop Research to present Fruit for the Future showcase this month

Dr Susan McCallum James Hutton

Dr Susan McCallum, blueberry researcher at The James Hutton Institute, will share the progress of the UK breeding programme

The James Hutton Institute and the Scottish Society for Crop Research (SSCR) are joining forces to present this year’s Fruit for the Future showcase at Invergowrie, Dundee, on 27 July.

Jam-packed with the latest soft fruit research, scientific presentations, outdoor demonstrations, and walks through experimental plots, the event is the perfect opportunity for industry experts to discuss key issues facing the sector, the organisers say.

With the cost of production increasing dramatically, partnered with shifting weather patterns due to climate change, both the productivity and profitability of Scotland’s soft fruit crops are vulnerable. The exploration of innovative technology with the ability to aid growing and harvesting fruits is therefore vital in adapting to and combating these advancing issues. As one of The James Hutton Institute’s most successful and longest running industry events, Fruit for the Future 2023 invites a diverse range of industry professionals including farmers, agronomists, scientists and food and drink industry representatives to look at how Scotland’s changing climate will impact the industry.

Starting at 3pm, with a welcome from the team, an informative selection of tours begins at 3:30pm, each lasting 20 minutes with a 10-minute slot for questions.There will be updates from Hutton’s soft fruit breeding experts, Amanda De Moura who oversees the blackcurrant breeding programme, and Nikki Jennings who oversees the raspberry/blackberry breeding programme.

Dr Susan McCallum, blueberry researcher at The James Hutton Institute, will also be sharing the progress of the blueberry breeding programme which is investigating the creation, seasonality, and machine harvestability of 40 different blueberry varieties across the UK.

Speaking on the event, McCallum said: “Scotland is synonymous with soft fruit with our rolling landscapes, fertile soils and relatively cool climate which is perfect for developing high quality crops. Although consumers consistently rank UK grown fruit quality ahead of imports, purchasing patterns themselves mainly reflect price. This event allows the industry to come together to discuss new varieties, technology to aid in the growing and harvesting of fruits and how to combat the ever-decreasing margin of profitability.”

Agri-Tech specialist Andrew Christie will discuss the newest innovations in machine harvesting, as projected forecasts suggest that Scotland could continue to become a suitable region for growing soft fruit. While areas of England may become too hot and dry, modern techniques for growing and harvesting will become crucial for agronomists to adopt.

Offering her insight on the novel use of remote tools to study plant-pollinator interactions in Scottish fruit crops, Jane Devlin a PHD student working with the James Hutton Institute will also be speaking.

Ending the evening on a sweet note, visitors are invited to participate in a blind tasting session, presenting the opportunity to evaluate the most promising raspberries in the programme and provide useful feedback on taste preferences compared with retailer standards.

Julie Graham, soft fruits and perennial crops group leader at James Hutton Institute, added: “Fruit for the Future is always a brilliant event, bringing together the key players from across the industry to demonstrate and discuss the key issues facing the sector. It’s a great opportunity to share research, knowledge and solutions, which can help the entire industry flourish.”