In Fruit, Present and Future, published in 1966, Knight and Keep wrote on breeding new soft fruits. Sufficient progress has been made in the intervening years to justify another review, and this is also an opportunity to discuss some of the new breeding objectives that have arisen. Knight and Keep dealt mainly with breeding in progress at East Malling Research Station but we are mostly concerned with work at the Scottish Horticultural Research Institute. Raspberries, black currants and blackberries are bred at our main station near Dundee, and strawberries at the Institute’s West of Scotland Unit near Ayr.
Two recent developments have influenced breeding objectives. Firstly, the trend towards machine harvesting requires that breeders give greater priority to the selection of plant characters which facilitate this operation, for example, easy abscission in raspberries and black currants and suitability for once-over harvest in strawberries. Secondly, entry into the European Economic Community influences our outlook in several ways; increasing competition from European strawberry growers is expected, particularly from those in southern Europe where the climate provides considerable early-season advantages. Our growers can expect an advantage late in the season, and so breeders are giving special attention to late cultivars. Strawberries with a deep red internal colour are also needed to compete in European markets, whilst the possibility of greater restriction in the use of colour additives for processed fruit leads to selection of raspberries and strawberries with deeper natural colour.