Everyone loves bigger and better strawberries. But, improvements to the existing strawberry varieties that are available commercially don’t just magically appear. Improving strawberry selections can be a long and tedious work. Going from native species of strawberry plants that produce small (but delicious!) strawberries to the larger and more economical versions most of us are familiar with today is a process. There are numerous obstacles to overcome in that process, and the vast majority of cultivars never pass the rigorous tests for release as an actually-improved strawberry variety.
Some of the main traits, of course, that breeding programs seek to improve are size and flavor. But, equally important are the hardiness factors that allow the strawberry plants to thrive and succeed in a host of different environments. Although strawberry plants are very hardy, new strawberry varieties in development need to improve resistance to different pathogens and infectious organisms to truly succeed on a large scale.
So, thanks to programs like the one at UC Davis, researchers are in the process of whittling down the 20,000 initial test crosses to isolate the truly improved traits that have both marketability and a robustness that will allow them to thrive in less hospitable conditions. At the moment, 68 cultivars are left. And, with the history of releasing about 1 new improved variety a year, that number will likely be whittled down significantly before final cultivars are released to farmers and the general public.
Among the present options is one I personally hope proves vital enough to make the final cut: a strawberry with peach overtones! Pair that potential strawberry with the Pineberry, which has pineapple overtones, and the diversity that can be experienced in the kitchen with strawberries will expand even more!
For the whole story, click here: New Strawberries in Development.