By Clint Thompson
Strawberries remain a popular fruit crop produced in Alabama. The secret to increasing its popularity may be by providing growers more variety options.
“Varieties are one of the most important decisions you’re going to make in crop production,” said Edgar Vinson, assistant research professor and Extension specialist in the Department of Horticulture at Auburn University during a recent Facebook webinar.
Vinson targeted his research at variety selection, providing growers data to help them decide on what varieties to produce next season.
“The objective of this study and all of our variety trials is to improve strawberry production by introducing new, better-adapted strawberry varieties to improve the specialty crop market,” Vinson said.
Twelve varieties were researched. The strawberries were planted on Oct. 23, 2020, and the 20-foot-long plots contained 34 plants per plot. Plants were harvested 12 times between April 7 and May 18.
Fronteras produced the largest berries with a conical shape max of 32 grams. It produced the highest total marketable fruit yield at 2,517 pounds per acre.
“It produces really large berries, the largest berry that we had,” Vinson said.
Its maturity is later than Camarosa but produces a large plant like Camarosa. It is sweet with very little tart flavor. Its red color tends toward fluorescent.
Camino Real, the variety that Alabama growers had to depend on this season, produced large berries with a max size of 22 grams. Its highest total marketable fruit yield was 2,232 pounds per acre. Its large plant size and maturity are like Camarosa. It is the sweetest when harvested deep red.
Camarosa had a maximum berry size of 22.4 grams. Its highest total marketable fruit yield was 2,447 pounds per acre. Its maturity was mid-season. It has large plants with the fruit having the sweetest, excellent flavor.
“It is a fairly consistent yielder. It’s usually in the tops every year, and that’s why it’s the market standard,” Vinson said.