A Talk by Pete & Carole Batty
At the meeting on 20th June members learned how much they knew
(and didn't know) about apples when Pete and Carole Batty, a retired
history teacher and a scientist, talked about the history and
work of the East Malling Research Station where they are tour
After years of gradual improvements in agriculture (like Jethro
Tull's seed drill), advances led by science became increasingly
In the 1840's a research centre for arable crops was established
at Rothamsted, and in 1912 local fruit growers met at Maidstone
and decided to support a similar research centre for fruit.
A small laboratory at East Malling was opened in 1913 on an estate
that had been in the Twisden family for hundreds of years.
Bradbourn House, the manor house of the Twisdens, is now the
headquarters of the Trust that oversees the Research Station.
Early research was devoted to classifying root stocks, because
it is the root stock that determines the height of the tree.
Thus the Paradise Apple was ideal for grafting, but the trees
could reach an inconvenient 7-8 metres.
To study how to restrict height the scientists invented underground
tunnels with glass panels for viewing the growing roots, and the
popular M9 root stock (M for Malling) was developed.
Any variety of apple could be grafted to the M9 stock, but the
trees grew to no more than 3 metres.
By 1936 East Malling was supplying commercial growers with 500,000
specimens a year.
This was one of the most celebrated achievements of East Malling.
Research now extends to strawberries, mushrooms, and other plants,
the storing and preservation of fruit, the management of greenhouses,
and the control of pests.
The Historical Society toured East Malling Research followed
by lunch at the Centre.