There are a few new strawberry varieties that have recently been released, and others that are expected soon from the University of Florida. Kenneth Parker, executive director of the Florida Strawberry Growers Association, discussed what new varieties are being introduced in the Florida strawberry industry.
“FL-127 originally was released under the name Florida Sensation,” says Parker. He says the FL-127 qualifies to be branded in the marketplace, under the Sweet Sensation trademark. Sweet Sensation is a brand that can be placed on the consumer package if a grower/company chooses to do so. “The stipulation is that the only variety currently that qualifies to be marketed that way would be the FL-127,” explains Parker.
He also says there is another variety that will be commercially available next year. “It’s called the FL-121-5. It shows a lot of promise, and what we are trying to do with the breeding program is create varieties that complement each other in terms of when they can be planted and the production curve of each variety,” says Parker. “So what we are trying to get away from is having just one variety that makes up 80 percent of the industry. We are trying to flatten out our production curve rather than having peaks and valleys of fruit throughout the season. We are trying to moderate that production curve so it is a steady supply, so we can breed the varieties that will complement each other in terms of that production curve. That is our goal.”
Parker added that other goals are to keep great flavor, longer shelf-life and naturally-bred disease resistance in the berries. The University of Florida Strawberry Breeding Program, which Parker regards as “the premiere short-day strawberry breeding program in the world,” is responsible for the new varieties.
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