Vance Whitaker, associate professor and director of the strawberry breeding program at the University of Florida, said Florida Beauty is the first day-neutral variety that has been released by the breeding program.
Most varieties grown in Florida are short-day varieties. The new day-neutral variety sets buds in the summer in nurseries quicker than short-day varieties, Whitaker said. By the time transplants are put in place, they typically have flowers on them. This allows Florida growers to get an earlier start to their season.
The combination of the low-chill Florida germplasm and the day-neutral trait allows the plants to bloom and fruit earlier than other varieties currently used. Whitaker said the current varieties growers are using and this new variety will work well together, in terms of production.
Florida Beauty brings growers another benefit, too. Since sugar levels can be a challenge for early fruit in Florida because of the warm weather, ensuring this variety is sweet was important to Whitaker. The flavor aspect of Florida Beauty also makes it stand out earlier in the season.
Whitaker said Florida Beauty has a sugar content nearly comparable to another variety released by the breeding program, Sweet Sensation®, which is known for its sweet flavor.
These characteristics benefit growers by allowing them to release a sweet berry into the market earlier in the season than other growers.
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