Strawberry variety Malling Ace thrives in the British summer heat - Fruit & Vine

Strawberry variety Malling Ace thrives in the British summer heat

Malling Ace strawberry crops delivered exceptional fruit quality and yield this season despite record-high temperatures across Britain in the summer.

Malling Ace at New Farm Produce in early August.

The everbearer strawberry variety showed good production trends with an average fruit size of 37.60 to 38.10g during agronomic trials at New Farm Produce in Staffordshire. The trials were held throughout June and July when temperatures reached unprecedented levels in many regions of the UK.

Malling Ace is known for its consistent fruit size, uniform conic berries, and upright leaves. Its flowers typically reach above the fruit canopy, creating excellent fruit displays that make picking easy and time-efficient.

At a New Farm Produce farm walk in early August, growers, agronomists and technologists examined the variety in peak production.

Stephen McGufffe from New Farm Produce 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.”

Mr McGufffe recommends adopting a tight spray programme for mildew control when growing Malling Ace. Although preliminary tests have shown disease resistance to crown rot (Phytophthora cactorum), the variety is somewhat susceptible to powdery mildew, according to the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB).

“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 six plants/m delivered consistent quality with an impressive yield potential of more than 1kg/plant using a mini tray plant,” Mr McGuffie added.

Alin Borleanu, technical officer-varieties development at NIAB, said most strawberry crops suffered in this summer’s extreme heat, with varieties showing a drop in fruit size and in some cases even the onset of thermodormancy.

“Malling Ace appears to be an exception,” he said, “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,” Mr Borleanu concluded.

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