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New varieties to be launched at National Fruit Show

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Visitors to this year’s National Fruit Show are set to be bedazzled by two new raspberry varieties – Malling Bella and Malling Charm.

Bred by the East Malling Rubus Breeding Consortium, the two new primocane cultivars are officially being launched at the show, which is this year taking place on October 25 and 26 at the Kent Event Centre in Detling (near Maidstone) Kent. NIAB EMR’s plant breeder Felicidad Fernández said: “These two new primocane fruiting cultivars have been receiving positive feedback from retailers and hope to make a splash at the National Fruit Show.”

Kent-based soft fruit grower and consortium member Tim Chambers has been trialling Bella and Charm and observes that both berries exhibit some of the much-loved traits – such as good fruit quality and shelf-life – of popular berries such as Maravilla and Kwanza. He added: “Maravilla can sometimes taste a bit earthy – it changes depending on the temperature – but these two East Malling varieties have a very consistent flavour throughout the summer.”

Bella is a vigorous, mid-season primocane fruiter that exhibits heavy yields and which is suitable for double cropping and long-cane production. It also has large, easy-to-pick berries. Charm, meanwhile, has moderate vigour and is an early primocane variety featuring short-to medium-height canes. It also has large, easy-to-pick berries and would make a good premium variety because of its sweetness and juiciness. Tim added: “It comes into flower early in the year so you could not take it through the following year. Bella, however, is more easily manipulated and therefore more ‘industrial’.”

Tim also explained that both varieties, which have only just been named this year, will from next year (2018) be grown commercially in the UK for some of the country’s large retailers. They are the first varieties launched by the East Malling Rubus Breeding Consortium’s mature raspberry programme. Formed in 2015, the group’s aim is to create, develop and commercialise worldwide raspberries and blackberries both for the professional and the garden markets. It builds on the pre-existing collaboration between NIAB EMR’s raspberry breeding programme and Lubera (a Swiss nursery working for the amateur markets) to produce red, purple and yellow raspberries of commercial and garden interest. The commercial side has since come to the fore with WB Chambers and Onubafruit joining in 2015 followed by Perfection Fresh in 2016.

The consortium is still expanding and actively looking for new members in Central/Northern Europe, the Americas and Africa to fulfil its global ambitions. For further information, get in touch with Feli on felicidad.fernandez@emr.ac.uk.

Photo credit – NIAB EMR – ‘Malling Bella’

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