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Fruit DNA Identification Scheme 2018

Historically fruit identification has involved visually examing a fruit and trying to determine its identity from this. As there are 000’s of varieties this is an error prone process and is largely dependent on the level of expertise of the identifier. Advances with DNA fingerprinting now allows us to identify fruits more quickly and more accurately in a laboratory and the Irish Seed Savers collection was fingerprinting between 2014 and 2015. Interested in possibly identifying your fruit?

Peter Laws of FruitID ( in the UK is organising an Apple, Pear and Cherry identification scheme through the East Malling laboratory NIAB-EMR in Kent, UK. Thankfully the service is also open to the general public in the Republic of  Ireland. The normal cost of identifying a single sample through NIAB-EMR is in excess of £100 but this scheme benefits from a bulk rate discount cost of circa £26 plus VAT per sample. This is the 3rd year this scheme has run and we don’t know when or if it will run in the future

Once fingerprinted, a variety is compared against 000’s of varieties already DNA profiled in the UK and and Ireland, including the Irish Seed Savers collection. Importantly, if your variety doesn’t match existing profiles you very probably have a unique variety in your garden. It is a very powerful tool for identifying your tree but it will also highlight unique fruit trees and Irish Seed Savers are still looking for uniquely Irish varieties that are suited to the Irish climate.

Importantly for us, if you choose to identify your fruit(s), in a later correspondence, you will receive a consent form from FruitID asking if you want to share your information with Irish Seed Saves or not. Please choose to share your results and personal information with Irish Seed Savers. This is an important aspect of our Irish fruit conservation strategy.

Please note, this is not an Irish Seed Savers scheme so please do not send leaf samples or payment to us. Finally, as per 2017, we understand NIAB-EMR will invoice individual participants for payment once the DNA fingerprinting has been completed.

For full details of how to apply please click here

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Life on the Farm

In the orchards we have gathered all our apple tree prunings ready for chipping which will eventually be mixed in with our composts. Down through the years apple trees have be given to Irish Seed Savers and we are busy sourcing the different stories around these varieties. We have cleared out our apple store and the blackbirds were grateful for the scraps during the recent cold snap. We are applying granulated lime to our grounds, this will make sure the PH balance of the soil is kept at optimal levels.

Our bare root selling season has finished and was a great success. A small number of bare roots will now be potted on and once they are healed in properly these will be for sale in our onsite shop. Throughout the orchards and nursery our big spring clean is underway. Grass is having its first cut of the season, irrigation systems are being set up and we will be closely monitoring our fresh apple tree grafts. Pinching out rootstock shoots, applying clips to ensure straight growth and constantly looking for signs of any diseases.

The deadline for our supporters to avail of their free seeds and tubers has come and gone but we will continue to process them if you can get them into us quickly. We are completely out of seed potatoes but we can give two additional packets of vegetable and herb seeds instead. April is the month our gardening team longs for, milder, drier weather allows them to be out in the gardens for longer to tackle the workload full on.

It will be all hands on deck for sowing courgettes and the rest of the cucurbit family as well as grains, beans, beats, chard and swede. We’ll be potting on peppers and tomato varieties and planting out our onions which were earlier sown in trays. We would always recommend growing onions from seeds as disease can be brought into your garden from sets. During the Winter months we’ve been busy renovating our Glasshouse and a polytunnel into a propagation tunnel. Raised beds and benches have now been installed and soon it will be in full use.

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Seed Share with Clare Garden Festival
Sunday 8th April, 3 – 6pm
Ennis Showgrounds, Ennis, Co. Clare

Gardeners of all levels are invited to bring saved or leftover vegetable, flower and her seed packets to share. Other Gardening items or books are welcome.Free Entry and All donations to Irish Seed Savers.

And remember the Clare Garden Festival is on 29th April and Irish Seed Savers will be there so drop by our stall to see our amazing selection of vegetable varieties.

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