Best New Variety - Edibles

Winner: 'Vibrant' early season strawberry, Meiosis

'Vibrant' early season strawberry - image: Meiosis
'Vibrant' early season strawberry - image: Meiosis

'Vibrant' lives up to its name, but you could throw in plenty more that would fit - attractive, glossy, durable, delicious.

The new early-season strawberry variety was named and commercially released to the UK industry in 2011. The fruit crops one week before the standard mid-season variety Elsanta and produces 60-day and main-crop yields in excess of the latter variety.

Growers can therefore throw another word into the mix - economic. Many early-season varieties have yield problems and are low on profit even when they command higher prices.

Not so 'Vibrant', which offers excellent berry quality and ensures exceptional class one percentages.

Another big economic plus with 'Vibrant' is double-cropping. Producing two crops in one season ensures that if July temperatures are fairly low the second crop will emerge around eight weeks after the initial main crop. Unlike other varieties, however, the size of the second crop will be good and quantities plentiful enough to warrant managing and harvesting. This spreads costs but increases output.

Praise should be directed to the world-renowned strawberry breeding programme at East Malling Research (EMR) in Kent, which gave us 'Vibrant'. The project was joint funded by Defra, head licensee Meiosis, the Horticultural Development Company and the East Malling Trust for Horticultural Research.

The berry, with regular conic shape, mid-red colour and a juicy, smooth texture, is therefore British born and bred with a good shelf life. Back at EMR, trials show resistance to powdery mildew and crown rot, making it more desirable for all market outlets.

These include Tesco, Sainsbury's and Asda, which have received the strawberry as well as its growers. Commercial production is being ramped up, planting stocks by licensed propagators are on the rise and estimated production for 2012 is around 650,000 plants. This should ensure that growers enjoy a cropping season they could call many things, but in particular, vibrant.

Highly Commended

UK Bambinella pear, Worldwide Fruit

Syngenta is a leading player in world food production, with research and development investments of more than £600m/annum in both seeds and crop protection technologies. Vegetables are a major focus for the company and the recent merger of our breeding and crop protection businesses will further strengthen our already very extensive offer to the industry.

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