It has taken fifteen years for the Archer strawberry variety to come to fruition. There is quite a bit of effort and a ton of patience involved in bringing a new strawberry variety to market. And, the new Archer strawberry variety is no exception. The New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York (Cornell University), has finally released the variety that was selected in 2001. Courtney Weber, associate professor in the School of Integrative Plant Science, is the man responsible for this new and exceptional variety. If early indicators are correct, this berry could significantly boost both farming revenues and culinary enjoyment.
What Makes the Archer Strawberry Variety Special?
Strawberry plants can be fickle. They often succumb to fungal pathogens, and pests seem to enjoy munching on them just as much as humans do. So, whenever the process of strawberry selection begins for a new variety, one of the main goals is to ensure that the plants can survive in the locations for which it is developed. Archer does just that. It is hardy and resistant to most of the common strawberry pathogens that can inflict losses on gardeners and commercial growers alike.
Hardiness isn’t the most notable characteristic of the Archer strawberry variety, however. Size matters. Archer is a gigantic strawberry variety. The berries are very large, topping out at a staggering 50 grams (a little bit less than 2 ounces). That is quite large for a strawberry. Big berries have been bred before, though. The new Archer strawberry variety succeeds in another category where other large-fruited varieties have notably failed: taste.
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Strawberry plants are quite complex to be such small plants. The production and yield from plants that size are normally fairly small, but the modern strawberry varieties have been bred extensively to produce huge yields from relatively small plants. Since almost everyone loves strawberries, growing them has become big business. In 2012, over 3 billion pounds of strawberries were produced in the United States, and the value of that haul was about $2,400,000,000 (according to the USDA). That is some serious coinage by any standard. And, that is why there is constantly research and scientific endeavors to increase strawberry production. The more available, the more that will be purchased and eaten (or so the reasoning goes). Literally hundreds of varieties have been developed and released over the years by different research stations in the US and across the globe. The modern strawberry plants that give us the huge and delectable fruits of today weren’t always such prolific producers. In fact, ancient strawberry plants are quite a bit different.
Continue reading Ancient Strawberry Plants Genetic Sequencing
Details of New Strawberry Varieties in Development…
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.
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Delizz strawberry plants are here! Strawberry plants are constantly being developed and cross-bred in attempt to improve upon the already-great qualities inherent in the small fruits. When the breeding programs scattered across the globe stumble upon (or painstakingly isolate!) genetic traits that result in superior strawberries, strawberry lovers everywhere benefit. It just so happens that a new strawberry variety has been developed and released and will be headed to markets in the United States as early as this spring.
ABZ Seeds, a Dutch company from Andijk-Holland specializing in gourmet strawberries, has developed a new strawberry cultivar called Delizz Strawberry. Delizz strawberries are being produced and sold through the Holland Strawberry House at present, but are headed this way amidst significant buzz, and should be available at some point this spring 2016 (be sure to check the seed and plant directories for availability). They were available in Europe, Asia, and Australia last year (2015).
Characteristics of Delizz Strawberry Plants
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29 percent of the world’s strawberries come from one single place: the state of California in the United States. Almost a third or every succulent red sweet fruit is grown in the vast acres of strawberry plants in the fertile land out west. A major problem with strawberries, however, is that they succumb to all manner of pests and pathogens. Diseases are of particular nuisance to farmers. To eliminate pathogens and fungi that affect strawberries and are almost ubiquitous, strawberry farmers have been sterilizing soil that is subsequently used to grow strawberries for almost half a century.
But, the major fumigants uses are methylated halogens. Methyl bromide, a particular popular one, was found to be a contributor to ozone depletion and was banned in 2005. Due to the difficulty in finding alternatives, the strawberry farmers have been able to get waivers to continue using the powerful chemical fumigant. However, the waivers are set to end altogether in 2016. So, growing strawberries with new techniques is going to be necessary. And, there just may be a viable option coming to fruition soon.
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Water is often taken for granted…until you don’t have enough. The fertile swath of the United States that is California has been a food-producing machine for decades. But, all that produce and nuts and fruits needs a hefty quantity water to grow into the juicy and plump table-ready mature products. And, the rate at which water has been utilized to facilitate the agricultural pursuits of Californian farms and other western farmers has sapped critical reservoirs of water.
Aquifers are drying up. There era of cheap access to water may be coming to an end for some of the most fertile and farm-friendly climates and locations in the United States. Because of the necessity of water utilization in farming, farms are looking to beat the drought by developing more water-conscious growing systems. One such system has been utilized in the Temecula Valley to successfully grow strawberry plants for years now.
Continue reading Hydroponic Strawberry Farms Adapting to Water Shortage
Diabetes can be a particularly pernicious problem. As virtually all the cells in the human body require glucose to function, and diabetics have biological difficulty getting that sugar to go where it ought (inside the cells to be used), any new development that aids in the amelioration of the symptoms of said condition can be a boon to ailing individuals. Interestingly enough, strawberries may hold a key to satiate the cravings of hungry insulin-disadvantaged people while keeping their hemoglobin happily hauling hefty amounts of oxygen instead of glucose.
Researchers have identified six volatile compounds in strawberries that mediate the perceived sweetness of strawberries. What is more interesting, however, is that those compounds show potential to increase the perceived sweetness of foods independent of the quantities of sugar contained therein. Unlike artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose (Splenda) that have had controversy swirling around their use since their FDA approval, should the six volatile sweetness-enhancers in strawberries be isolated and stabilized, the potential benefits to both the health care fields, dieticians, and even the strawberry industry are quite significant.
Continue reading Strawberries on the Verge of Helping Diabetics
Strawberries are a small fruit native to the Americas and also found in several other regions of the world. Bangladesh is not one of them. However, the Fragaria x ananassa hybrid cross that makes up most of the strawberry cultivation around the world is not breaking through in Khagrachhari just yet. Two pioneering farmers, Bimal Chandra Chakma and Munmun Chakma, have successfully grown strawberries there for years now. They used a species called Rabi-3, and have watched as their efforts have quadrupled the size of their plantation.
The pair of farmers initially started with 50 decimals of land, but were able to expand their growing strawberries in Bangladesh to 200 decimals in just three years. What is also ground-breaking is that the couple has paved the way for other farmers to begin growing strawberries in Bangladesh since their operation has proven to be commercially viable.
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Even though growing strawberries is a billion dollar business, there is still room for improvement in the application of scant resources. Resources such as water are often in high demand. In the strawberry growing capital of the world, California, farmers are employing a novel approach to find the optimal ways to grow their crops. They are using mathematics.
By enlisting the help of expert mathematicians, Californian farmers in the Parajo Valley region are developing and using sophisticated mathematical models to ensure the proper utilization of water to mitigate the scarcity of that precious and vital resource. PBS recently delved into the details of this newsworthy topic on their News Hour segment.
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If you mention fungal infections to strawberry farmers, you will likely watch as faces either go pasty white with fear or purple with rage. Fungi can wipe out whole fields of strawberries leaving the farmers with nary an avenue of recourse but to treat and replant with a more hardy variety of strawberry. With the phase out of methyl iodide (and the banning of other fumigants that were used to wipe out fungus spores) due to public concerns and possible health impacts, strawberry farmers are looking for other ways to control or eliminate losses due to pathogenic fungal infection. Using coconut coir as a growth medium and anaerobic soil disinfestation both may be used more widely in the future. Another option may become viable at a time yet future as well.
When most people think of companion planting, they think of planting synergistic plant species in proximity to one another to maximize the beneficial interactions. But, as it turns out, the mycologists may have a new reason to celebrate. While many people have been using mycorrhizal fungi for many years to grow large garden plants, strawberry farmers have often tried to completely eliminate all types of fungi from interacting with strawberry plants because of the aforementioned detrimental effects that many of the microorganisms inflict on Fragaria species. The University of California has fired the first salvo in changing that preconceived notion, however. A recent study has shown that certain entomopathogenic fungi can be used with strawberry plants to kill mites and other strawberry pests while leaving the strawberries unharmed.
Continue reading Strawberry Plants Benefit from Fungus