AbstractVariation in six characters of fruiting laterals was studied by principal component and cluster analyses in 12 varieties. In all the varieties, most of the variance was attributable to three vectors: general lateral vigour, reproductive vigour and unachieved reproductive potential of the lateral. General lateral vigour was often greater towards the base of the plant but reproductive vigour was greater at the tip. Scores for general lateral vigour for each variety were positively correlated with the dates on which 50% of their crop was harvested. The varieties differed either in the pattern of vector loadings or in the position of vigorous laterals on the canes. Varieties with few but vigorous laterals at the top of their canes tended to show suppressed growth of lower laterals. Varieties with high lateral vigour tended to fruit later and to have more fruits per lateral.