New technology to be used to help blueberries thrive in Scotland

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham.

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New plant breeding technology is being used by the James Hutton Institute to help blueberries thrive in the Scottish climate, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham announced.

Part of a significant programme of Scottish Government funded research; this project aims to produce blueberry plants that are more suited to the Scottish climate, helping to provide local options of this healthy fruit.

The amount of blueberries grown in Scotland has increased by 10 per cent in the last year – and this innovative research could be key to further growth.

In addition, researchers at the Rowett institute for Nutrition and Health have shown that drinking a concentrated berry extract significantly lowers glucose levels after eating. If this is proven to work on a long term basis it may contribute to the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes, helping lead to a healthier population.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “Blueberries are an increasingly popular fruit in the UK. They are widely considered to have health benefits and of course they count as one of the five a day for fruit and veg.

“Traditionally blueberries are imported to Scotland but this innovative research we are funding is using new technology to develop plants that are more suitable for the Scottish soil and climate as well as helping us to fully understand the health benefits of this fruit.

“Scottish blueberry production is already on the increase and this should help boost local production of this fruit – which is better for the environment and also good news for our economy.”

Julie Graham, who leads on the blueberry breeding programme at the James Hutton Institute said: “Cutting-edge plant breeding technology is enabling the James Hutton Institute to develop new blueberry cultivars. These cultivars, better suited to Scottish conditions, should enable an increase in the home-grown blueberry crop, which will be of benefit to Scottish soft fruit growers. Long term funding from the Scottish Government has been instrumental in supporting this research.”