Malling Opal, trialled as EMR287, was bred at East Malling Research and first selected in 2001. It has a complex pedigree including Evita, Selva, Elsanta, Providence and Etna.
The fruit has a conical shape and attractive appearance with mid red colour and slightly raised seeds. The berries have very good eating quality, being moderately firm with a juicy texture and sweet flavour. Brix levels have been consistently higher than Everest in trials at East Malling. Shelf life is good but careful handling is required to avoid bruising during periods of hot weather.
Yield and Fruit Size
The yield has been higher than Everest in trials at East Malling and the average fruit size is larger, with a much greater proportion in the large size category (>35mm). The percentage waste is low.
Season and cropping pattern
If planted in spring, harvesting will begin in July and continue until October. In trials at East Malling 60% of the production has been in July/August and 40% in September/October, which is a similar pattern to Everest. To maximise the yield it is essential to use protection with polythene tunnels in the later part of the season.
Malling Opal is considered suitable for all types of retail outlet.
Plants have similar vigour to Everest but runner production is greater and it is important to remove the runners regularly to maximise yield.
Malling Opal is moderately resistant to powdery mildew (Sphaerotheca macularis). Susceptibility to other diseases has not yet been assessed.
Use of the variety
Malling Opal is a large fruited everbearing variety with good eating quality that will crop heavily over a long season. It is expected to have a wide appeal to growers in different sectors.