Delia (formerly EM835) was bred at East Malling Research by Dr David Simpson and his team. It was selected in 1995 from the progeny of a cross between Honeoye and ITA 80-51-1, a breeding line from Italy.
The berries are very attractive with a bright orange red colour and glossy skin finish. The shape is very regular conical and eating quality is similar to Honeoye, juicy but slightly acidic. Shelf life is very good, due to the bright colour and good firmness.
Yield and Fruit Size
Delia was trialled at East Malling in 1997-98, 1999-2000 and 2004. In the first trial fruit quality was excellent but yield was low, due to poor establishment. In the two subsequent trials yield and fruit size has been slightly better than Elsanta and percentage class 1 fruit has been >90% in all trials, which is superior to Elsanta. Delia maintains large fruit size well on two year old plants, when average berry size is significantly larger than Elsanta. This characteristic, combined with low percentage waste, results in rapid and economical harvesting.
The season of Delia is approximately seven days earlier than Elsanta for 50% harvest
Delia is an early season dessert type with good fruit quality that is suitable for all types of retail outlets.
Plants have moderate vigour with upright habit and the fruit is well displayed. In trials Delia has performed better when established from a misted tip rather than as a 60 day plant. Runner production is good.
Delia does not have strong resistance to any of the common strawberry diseases and a spray programme equivalent to that used for Elsanta is recommended. Soil sterilisation is necessary where there is a risk from Verticillium wilt.
Use of the variety
Delia offers growers the opportunity to start the season with a productive variety that has a very attractive appearance, excellent shelf life and comes on stream one week earlier than Elsanta. To take advantage of the early season, Delia should be protected from spring frosts, as flowering is also early.