What do we want from a new strawberry variety? My top two features would be flavour and freedom from disease and a new variety from California called ‘Albion' - now available from the RHS Online Plants Plant Shop - looks to fit the bill.
‘Albion' has long conical fruits which are pillar-box-red on the outside - and, I'm told, the same colour all the way through. Don't you just hate it when you bite into a strawberry and it's white and puffy in the middle? They're sweeter than other strawberries and the overall flavour is outstanding, especially for an everbearer.
And that's what ‘Albion' is, an everbearer. It should usually start cropping around the last week of May, peaking in late June and July, tailing off a little then peaking again in late August, then again fading a little and peaking yet again in mid-September. That gives you a rough idea, it partly depends on when the plants are planted.
Now, what about disease resistance? Well, the plants you buy will be virus-free, that's guaranteed. But ‘Albion' is also resistant to verticillium wilt and phytophthora crown rot and also shows some resistance to anthracnose crown rot.
‘Albion' was bred by the University of California, where they assess 12,000 potential new varieties every year - and discard almost all of them. ‘Albion' the latest in a succession of excellent varieties and is already the most widely grown strawberry in California. One tip comes from trials here in Britain: you can increase the yield by25% by nipping off all - yes all - the runners.
Strawberry ‘Albion' is now available from the RHS Online Plant Shop for delivery in November. It's also available from Thompson & Morgan.