It may be produced only in limited acreage this year, but the Florida Pearl strawberry is already a hot commodity. One of University of Florida (UF)/IFAS strawberry breeder Vance Whitaker’s newest releases is attracting attention from farmers due to its unique whiteish color and pineapple aroma.
“There’s been a lot of media coverage of it. We’ve gotten a lot of calls from people wanting to figure out where they can get them. I would just say the sense from the response is that people are responding well to them,” Whitaker said. “The fact that growers are committing to grow and substantially increase their acreage next year tells me wherever they’re test-marketing them, they’re getting interest. They’re not interested in growing anything they don’t think they can sell.”
Also Known as Pineberry
Whitaker said the white strawberry is also known as the pineberry, since there is a hint of pineapple aroma sometimes when you bite into it. Pineberry is a name that’s been used for some white-fruited strawberries that have existed in small amounts over the years.
The white strawberry’s origin at UF dates to 2012 when strawberry seeds from Japan were sown at the University of Florida. A few small plants recovered. The plants’ pollen was crossed with a Florida variety, and the fruit’s seedlings ranged from white to pink to red.
Leveraging the Market
Whitaker said farmers are looking for a tool to leverage the market, something the other production regions don’t already have. The white strawberry qualifies.
“The 12 acres isn’t a lot, but early returns on the variety have been good. Grower commitments for next season are going way up as far as what they’re wanting to grow and market in the next year. I think it’s been really positive,” Whitaker said.