The everbearer strawberry variety Malling™ Ace delivered excellent yields and consistent fruit size this season, showing a much-needed resilience to the stress of extreme summer temperatures, says Malling™ Fruits.
Preliminary results from agronomic trials at New Farm Produce in Staffordshire, UK, show a good production trend during June and July despite the record high temperatures. Malling™ Ace has upright leaves and its flowers project above the leaf canopy with superb fruit displays making for easy picking. Fruit size during the same period was recorded, on average, between 37.60 g and 38.10 g.
Growers, agronomists and technologists were shown the variety in peak production at a New Farm Produce farm walk in early August. New Farm Produce’s Stephen McGuffie commented, “Malling™ Ace showed good resilience in temperatures of up to 40°C without compromising yield and quality. It scored well in benchmarking tests and growers should consider including this variety in their crop planning.”
His recommendations for growing Malling™ Ace include adopting a tight spray programme for mildew control. “The variety can be managed without problem, but best practice would be to grow other mildew sensitive varieties away from Malling™ Ace.
“Once the plants have established, they can be grown on a low nitrogen feed. Malling™ Ace grown in substrate at 6 plants/m delivered consistent quality with an impressive yield potential of more than 1 kg/plant using a mini tray plant,” said Mr McGuffie.
Alin Borleanu, Technical Officer-Varieties Development at NIAB, said, “Strawberries crops clearly suffered in this summer’s extreme heat, with varieties dropping in fruit size and some even shutting down and going into thermo-dormancy. Malling™ Ace appears to be an exception; showing resilience during the heatwave, maintaining its fruit size and continuously expressing new flower trusses. A strong versatile variety, overall this year it has performed well in a range of production systems; from open field in soil to coir substrate on tabletops under polytunnels, and in glasshouses.
“It is encouraging to see Malling™ Ace standing up to its own name, and these new qualities can be added to an already noteworthy list of traits including high yields, good fruit quality and easy/fast picking,” finished Mr Borleanu.
Malling™ Ace plants are in high demand. Forward ordering from a range of commercial propagators is essential to secure material for the 2024/25 growing season.
Malling™ Fruits works with industry consortia across the world to breed, develop and commercialise soft fruit varieties, including the phenomenally successful strawberry Malling™ Centenary and raspberries Malling™ Bella and Malling™ Charm.
Malling™ Fruits is part of NIAB, based in East Malling in Kent, UK. Strawberry breeding first began at East Malling in 1983 for commercial and amateur markets and we have since launched 45 varieties of soft fruit with sales exceeding 400 million plants. Using a combination of traditional techniques and genomics-assisted breeding NIAB supports the efficient development of disease resistant, high quality varieties ensuring improved yield, fruit size and quality, lower fruit wastage, easier picking and season extension.