Strawberry season is here and thanks to the dry sunny weather they are tasting incredibly sweet and juicy – Kate’s fruit shop has never been busier and it is working safely thanks to the well thought out drive-through system.

Perhaps the best two adverts for eating lots of strawberries are Beth and Ricky, the lovely couple who cycle up on their tandem every week to sample the fruit – one should never ask a lady her age, but Ricky is at least 90 and going strong. Eat strawberries and buy a tandem for a long and happy life.

It is not only Ricky and Beth who are tempted. Why is it that aphids and other pests always go for the sweetest varieties of strawberries and the tastiest potatoes? The holy grail for a potato or strawberry breeder has always been achieving the golden combination of yield, disease and pest resistance, and flavour, because almost invariably there is a conflict between the goals.

Biologists will know why, but for some reason, high yields and great taste are not often genetically combined in either soft fruit or potatoes.

Take the potato variety Nadine, popular with growers for many years, though we might hesitate to own up to it. The yields were phenomenal, in excess of 30 tonnes per acre, compared to low 20s for Maris Piper, but it was a tasteless and watery, not fit for taking home, but rather to load on a lorry and send to the conurbations down south as quickly as possible, where nobody knew any better.

There have been similar forays in soft fruit in the past. For instance, the unlamented strawberry variety, Elsinore, was big yielding but you wouldn’t want your name on the punnet.

There are still varieties around that focus on yield over flavour. The fruit is just about edible, but it isn’t gobsmacking, unlike the strawberry varieties bred by Angus Soft Fruits resident expert, Dave Griffiths. Flavour is always top of the list in our breeding programme, with yield and disease resistance a secondary consideration, but Dave has somehow managed to combine flavour, yield, and disease resistance with the latest day neutral varieties Ava Blush and Ava Star.

The only downside is that the yield profile for day neutrals is quite similar to everbearers, with most of the yield later in the summer when demand is less, so we have to balance that with other lower yielding June-bearing varieties that have a heavy crop early on.

We also grow an exquisitely sweet variety of blackberry called Karaka because we love the flavour, but it is so spiny that you need welding gloves to cut it back, the yield is about half that of poorer flavoured varieties and there is a constant battle against spider mite, blackberry mite and aphids.

Growers have a difficult decision to make because of this. As margins have become so slim, belts have to be tightened and ultimately the decision has to be made to sacrifice quality for quantity if the business is to remain profitable.

This is a great shame on several fronts. First, there is the not unimportant matter of growing something you can be proud of. Second and more tangibly, it’s not good business to sell substandard product – you can only get away with it for so long and as retailers and soft fruit growers are very aware, poor tasting fruit means poor repeat sales.

Thirdly and perhaps most damaging of all, producing huge yields of average tasting fruit floods the market to everyone’s detriment. It happened last year when some growers planted too many high yielding everbearers, whose production profile peaks in August, when many families are abroad on holiday.

We have always tried to focus on quality over quantity, because I think that is where you have the best chance of adding value and pushing more sales. Angus Soft Fruits were the first British company to breed and supply premium line strawberries to the retailers with our own variety, Ava.

We were the first to supply top quality Scottish raspberries in June, making us 80% of the UK market in that month for a number of years until inevitably the competition caught up with us.

I no longer grow raspberries, as I found them a bit like sheep – every year they would find a new way of dying for no apparent reason, and quite often it seemed to me that it wasn’t my fault (it probably was).

By then, the price had come tumbling down as the market became saturated. Raspberries and blackberries have not reached the same lofty levels as strawberries in the mindset of the public and are still a niche product to an extent, so much more vulnerable to overproduction.

Blueberries are a relative newcomer, but their growth in popularity has been stratospheric. For growers in Scotland, they tick a lot of boxes.

Harvesting period is towards the end of the summer, when other fruit crops are coming to an end, so it helped extend the season with the available workforce. September and October was traditionally a 'hungry gap' in global blueberry supply between Europe and South America, and with the ability to cold store for up to a month in controlled atmosphere, for a brief window in time, Scottish blueberries could command a premium.

Big plantations in Peru have filled the gap and once again we should return to Scotland’s unique selling point, quality. Unlike other soft fruit, blueberries have never been sold as British, or Scottish in season, partly because the imported supply was usually good flavour and partly because blueberries are seen as a daily breakfast fruit throughout the year.

Additionally, because we were storing our fruit for up to a month, the eating quality was more variable than if it was picked and packed fresh, as we do with our other soft fruit. We now have an uphill battle to persuade the public to buy British blueberries in season based on freshness and flavour, but I think that has to be our next move.

With its higher costs of production, mainly due to cost of wages, Scottish fruit, veg and potato growers have two routes: We can either try to produce more than anyone else, or we can try to produce food that is better than anyone else.

I’m not naïve enough to suggest that there is no place at all for indifferent tasting but high yielding produce, there certainly is, but I think the bigger rewards in the long term will come from growing top quality produce at a sustainable price point. Better is better and more is less.