AVA Monet and AVA Dali will enter into year-round commercial production in 2024, offering Angus Soft Fruit growers premium quality, large fruit and low picking costs

Angus Soft Fruits is preparing to launch two new premium raspberry varieties that respond to mounting cost pressures on growers and “represent a step change” in breeding of the fruit.

Developed by the Angus Soft Fruits breeding programme, AVA Monet and AVA Dali are currently in commercial trials and slated for commercial launch in 2024.  

So named because they are “works of art”, according to head of marketing Jill Witheyman, the cultivars have already won approval from several major UK retailers and will arrive on shelves in 2024.

One of the key considerations when developing the varieties, according to breeding programme director Lucy Wilkins, was the cost and ease of picking the fruit. She explains that AVA Monet has short, compact laterals, whereas Dali has a longer structure but a canopy “that isn’t too dense”.

“Raspberries is a tough sector at the moment,” she told FPJ at Fruit Attraction in Madrid. “We’ve seen growing area decrease and a lot of people are struggling to make raspberry production economically viable.

“Consequently, yield, crop management and picking costs have all been a major focus in the development of these varieties.

“It’s all about how well presented the fruit is. You’re looking for a bigger berry that’s easier to get to. If you’re having to fight through a lot of foliage, you’re going to slow down your picking team.”

The high-yielding berries also stand out for their impressive size and weight. On average, AVA Monet weighs 9g (in UK production) and 7g (in Spanish production), while AVA Dali is 8g (UK) and 7g (Spanish).

They are both late primocane varieties, but in Scotland they will also be grown using long canes due to the success of the technique north of the border.

The AVA cultivars will replace Lagorai, a raspberry variety long favoured by Angus Soft Fruits but less premium than the new AVA berries, according to Wilkins.

Monet and Dali are the first raspberries in the AVA range, which otherwise includes premium strawberry varieties such as AVA Star and AVA Magnum.

The new raspberry cultivars were bred for production in various climates – namely Spain, Portugal, Morocco and the UK – ensuring 12-month supply.

In the UK they will be exclusively available to Angus Soft Fruits growers, but the supplier has yet to confirm the extent of their availability in other producing countries.

The varieties’ key attributes are as follows:

AVA Monet

  • High-yielding: 1.4kg per cane (UK), 1.8kg per cane (Spain)
  • Shelf life: nine days from harvest (UK), 10 days from harvest (Spain)
  • Recommended planting density: four canes per linear metre
  • Short laterals, compact plant
  • Brix level 12
  • Sweet and juicy
  • Sweet and intense aroma
  • Broad conical shape
  • Medium red colour

AVA Dali

  • High-yielding: 1.1kg per cane (UK), 1.3kg per cane (Spain)
  • Shelf life: eight days from harvest (UK), 10 days from harvest (Spain)
  • Recommended planting density: four canes per linear metre
  • Long laterals
  • Brix level 12
  • Good balance of sweetness and acidity
  • Traditional raspberry taste
  • Intense aroma
  • Elongated conical fruit
  • Medium red colour and shiny fruit