AVA Alicia and AVA Catalina have been developed to produce through winter in the Mediterranean  

Angus Soft Fruits has begun commercial production of two new strawberry varieties, bred to fruit throughout the winter season.

AVA Alicia

AVA Alicia

The two varieties - AVA Alicia (ASF733.01) and AVA Catalina (ASF324.01) - were bred and selected by the Angus Soft Fruits Breeding Programme team.

Intended for production in the Mediterranean region, trials and tests over the past four years “have proved they have something special to offer growers, retailers, and consumers”, according to the company.

Years of breeding work

The science behind the breeding of the new varieties started several years ago when Angus Soft Fruits reviewed its Mediterranean production of strawberries, the company explained, with varieties at that time deemed to lack some of the characteristics enjoyed during the summer season of production.

Efforts were made to combine genetics that would express the appearance and flavour of the traditional ‘summer season’ berries. Also required in the makeup of the new varieties was the ability for them to produce fruit in the short days of winter, albeit during the warm climate enjoyed during the Mediterranean winter.

Breeding programme director Lucy Wilkins said: “Tests over the past four seasons at the Angus Soft Fruits trial sites in Spain have confirmed that we have exciting new varieties for the future. The significant point of difference for growers in the region with the varieties is the high tolerance to disease, along with an ideal season and yield portfolio.

“Consumer benchmarking has shown excellent responses to the exceptional appearance, flavour, and texture of these new very special varieties alongside extended shelf life.”

Managing director John Gray added: “The feedback from our customers has been extremely positive and we are looking forward to scaling up production over the next couple of years.”