Two new strawberry varieties released

21-02-2021    14:09   |    Growing Produce

Two new varieties from the Public Strawberry Breeding Program at the University of California, Davis, are designed for summer planting in Southern California coastal regions to provide consumers with big, flavorful strawberries throughout fall and winter.

“These cultivars were developed to provide high-quality fruit from late summer through the holidays,” Professor Steve Knapp, Director of the UC Davis Strawberry Breeding Program, said.

The new varieties — ‘UCD Finn’ and ‘UCD Mojo’ — are “extreme day neutral,” which means they were bred for summer planting, especially in coastal climates from Santa Maria south. They were developed to replace ‘Portola’, the only other UC variety that is planted in the summer and harvested in the fall and winter. ‘Portola’ is popular with growers for its high yield, but some consumers say the variety lacks flavor.

One of the new summer plant strawberry selections is ‘UCD Finn’. (Credit: Hector Amezcua, UC-Davis)

“’Finn’ and ‘Mojo’ are sweeter than ‘Portola’ without any drop-off in yield because so much of the fruit is large and marketable throughout the harvest season,” Glenn Cole, Breeder and Field Manager with the UC Davis Strawberry Breeding Program, said.

‘Finn’ was named in honor of longtime Plant Geneticist and Small Fruit Breeder Chad Finn, who passed away just over a year ago. Finn served at the USDA Horticultural Crops Research unit in Corvallis, OR, and developed many of the berry varieties commonly used in the industry throughout the PNW, notes the USDA/Oregon State University Berry Breeding Program.

Since its inception in the 1930s, the UC Davis Strawberry Breeding Program has developed more than 60 patented varieties, turned strawberries into a year-round crop, and increased strawberry yield from about 6 tons per acre in the 1950s to more than 30 tons per acre today. The U.S. is the world’s largest producer of strawberries, and almost 90% of them are grown in California. About 60% of the state’s strawberry fields are planted with varieties developed at UC Davis.

One of the new summer plant strawberry selections is ‘UCD Mojo’. (Credit Hector Amezcua, UC-Davis)

Counting ‘Finn’ and ‘Mojo’, UC Davis has released seven new varieties in the last 18 months, each with its own farming niche to help growers manage disease, control costs and produce plenty of large, sweet berries using fewer resources. The breeders have more varieties in the pipeline, all of which will offer genetic resistance to Fusarium wilt, a soil-borne pathogen that can destroy entire fields of strawberries.

Farmers can buy ‘Finn’ and ‘Mojo’ at nurseries starting this spring. Also, more details on all of the UC Davis strawberry varieties are available at the UC Davis Office of Research site.

Source: Growing Produce

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