New strawberry varieties set for 2012 launch

Strawberry breeding at East Malling Research continues to yield varieties with commercial potential, according to researcher Adam Whitehouse.

The early June-bearing Vibrant, launched last year, yields 260g per plant, compares with 220g for Elsanta, with 80 per cent being of the "large" class he said.

"This season was experimental but it has shown Vibrant has potential as a second or double-cropping variety. It will be extensively sampled in 2012," he added.

The first outcome of the East Malling Strawberry Breeding Club, Serenity is "Florence with lighter skin colour", Whitehouse said. Florence had proved too dark for the UK market's tastes, he added.

Meanwhile, the ever-bearing Buddy, which took two awards at this autumn's National Fruit Show, offers strong across-the-board performance, he said, and will feature in Sainsbury's premium Taste the Difference range, as well as being listed by Morrisons and Asda.

Both Serenity and Buddy will be propagated and marketed by Hargreaves Plants, and will have dedicated consumer websites.

Whitehouse said more than 30 of the 35 varieties developed at the research station over the past 25 years were still grown commercially.

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