UNIVEG Katopé UK reaches Exciting Agreement to Develop New Early Cherry Varieties in the UK

UNIVEG UK Ltd is delighted to announce that the business has signed an exclusive agreement with, French based, COT International, to trial two exciting new varieties of sweet cherry in the UK.

The varieties, “Frisco”  and “Rocket”, were originally bred in California and are both early-ripening cultivars that have shown great results in other countries, particularly Spain.  COT International is a well-known specialist managing Intellectual Property Rights on stone-fruit and cherries on behalf of breeders around the world.  This new agreement gives UNIVEG UK Ltd exclusive rights to test these exciting cherry varieties in the UK, and the right to sign an exclusive commercial license if the tests prove successful.

Marie-Laure Etève, from COT International, “We are delighted to partner UNIVEG UK, one of the leading players in the UK cherry market, to develop these new varieties. They have excellent customer and grower relationships and their technical expertise will help produce high quality, early season cherries in the UK”

Richard Isaacs, from UNIVEG UK Ltd, “We are delighted to be announcing another exclusive deal that demonstrates our commitment to the cherry sector in the UK.  We first saw “Frisco” and “Rocket” in Spain a few years ago, and our customers were excited about the step-change in early season fruit quality.  These varieties produce bold, dark, sweet fruit, and they are both ripening early in the season.  We have produced the first trees on Gisela rootstocks and supplied them to our UK growers for planting this Spring.  We look forward to seeing how they perform in the UK climate, outdoors, under covers and in poly-tunnels.”

For the past few years the UK cherry industry has been focussing largely on extending the season later, traditionally to avoid clashing with “cheaper” Turkish and European imports.  However, with improved interest and support from UK retailers in British cherries, there is a real opportunity for us to bring the season forward as well.

Existing “early varieties” in the UK don’t always deliver on quality, often being too soft, too small, or acidic. As a consequence, some UK growers have been developing techniques to “force” good quality, flavoursome mid-season varieties to ripen a little earlier through the use of tunnels.  Isaacs again commented, “Forcing cherries in tunnels can certainly bring existing varieties forward by a few days, and we would encourage growers to keep developing their skills and knowledge in this respect.  If we can bring new high quality early-ripening varieties to the party such as “Frisco” and “Rocket”, then this can only add to the existing work and improve the chances of supplying exceptional cherries to British consumers earlier in the summer.

Our exclusive agreement for “Frisco” and “Rocket”, here in the UK, is just one of a number of initiatives we have in the pipeline to help our growers start the UK season even earlier, and we look forward to announcing further new developments in the near future”.

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