The raspberry belongs to the genus Rubus L., subgenus Idaeobatus, which includes about 200 species. The wild forms are found in Asia, Eastern and Southern Africa, Europe and North America. Among them, the most important are the European species of red raspberries (Rubus idaeus subvulgatus Arrhen.), red raspberries found in North America (Rubus idaeus podr. strigosus Michx).
Raspberries have been the focus of attention for centuries, mainly because of the medicinal properties of the fruit. These qualities were first noticed by herbalists who used plants in folk medicine. The fruits and leaves of both species are natural pharmaceuticals used during colds, bacterial and viral infections. Gradually, these species were studied by botanists and improved by breeders, to finally find a place in common cultivation. Currently, raspberry is the third largest production (after strawberry and blueberry) species of berry plants grown in the world. In 2017, the world production of raspberries amounted to 590 thousand tons. 57% of the fruit came from Europe, 29% from North America and 7% from South America. In Europe, the largest producer of raspberries is Russia with a production of over 125 thousand tons. Another significant producer is Poland. In 2018, 126 thousand tons of fruit.
The development of Polish raspberry production was possible due to the native breeding. The Polish raspberry breeding program was established in 1979 by Dr. Jan Danek and was co-financed by the Ministry of Agriculture. From this program, in 1991 the first primocane raspberry variety Polana was introduced to the common cultivation. In 2003, the Polka variety entered to the production. The Polka variety has gained worldwide recognition and it currently sets standards in terms of fruit quality.
Since 2012, raspberry breeding has been carried out in the private company Niwa Hodowla Roślin Jagodowych, the seat of which is located in Brzezna near Nowy Sącz. In terms of the number of crosses performed and the number of seedlings planted, it is one of the largest breeding programs of this type in the world.
The number of smaller or larger breeding centers in the world can be estimated at more than 30, conducted in 19 countries around the world, and the used varieties are counted in thousands.
|Dr Agnieszka Orzeł
– raspberry and blackberry breeder
Aims of breeding: Obtaining varieties adapted to the local natural and economic conditions.
Scope: The assumption is to make annually about 250 cross combinations, the production about 20 thousand seedlings and about 1% of selected duels. Due to the great interest of producers in new varieties, the program is constantly being expanded. In 2018, over 530 cross combinations were made, of which, after the initial selection in the greenhouse, over 25,000 seedlings will be intended for further evaluation.
Directions: primocane and floricane dessert varieties, for processing (frozen and concentrate and functional products).
Methods: Cross-breeding with the use of flowering biology assessment in the selection of parental pairs. Standard methods for evaluate plants and fruits are used.