New Strawberry Varieties: Winterstar & Florida Sensation

Florida residents will be noshing on two new varieties this year.  Researchers with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Science has released two new strawberry varieties: Winterstar & Florida Sensation.  Winterstar originated from a 2005 cross between the Florida Radiance variety (female parent) and Earlibrite (male parent).  Florida Sensation is similar, […]

Cascade Strawberry Plants (Fragaria cascadensis)

cascade strawberry plants fragaria cascadensisFragaria cascadensis is a newly-discovered species of strawberry plants that have just been discovered high on the peaks of Oregon's Cascade Mountains.  The new species was discovered near Hoodoo Mountain by Agricultural Research Service scientist Kim Hummer with the National Clonal Germplasm Repository at Corvallis, Oregon.

Fragaria cascadensis Strawberry Plants: Summary

Unlike the modern Garden Strawberry (Fragaria x ananassa) which, if propagated by seed, does not produce second generation plants whose traits are true to the parents, Fragaria cascadensis is a new strawberry plant species whose offspring will remain true to the parent plants' characteristics.  This species has been dubbed the “Cascade Strawberry.”

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Strawberry Farmers Battling Gray Mold With Bumblebees

strawberry farmers battling gray mold with bumblebeesGray mold (or, grey mould as our European friends spell it) is a bane to strawberry farmers.  It infects the fruit of strawberry plants and turns it into an inedible mushy mass of spore-filled yuck soon after the fruit is picked, packaged, and sent to market.  The gray mycellium consume the berries, spread to other nearby areas, and generally cause much consternation to those agriculturists who make a living by providing fruit lovers with the strawberries they crave.

In the UK, a novel approach is being pioneered by growers to prevent gray mold from ruining their crops.  They are using a benign mold species to innoculate their crops so that the pathogenic strains cannot be established.  Here is the skinny on how it works:

Bumblebee hives are situated so that the bees are forced to enter an exit through a tray of harmless fungus spores.  As they do so, the fuzzy insects pick up the inoculant.  They then carry those harmless spores around and deposit them on strawberry flowers.  The presence of the harmless spores prevents the gray mold spores from finding purchase on the surface of the fruits.  Consequently, the bad fungus is unable to do damage after harvest because of the fact that the real estate they would have normally occupied is unavailable.

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Discovering How Strawberry Plants Fight Fusarium Wilt

discovering how strawberry plants fight fusarium wiltSoil pathogens like Fusarium species pose a significant threat to strawberry plants around the world.  The presence of this and other organisms in the dirt that can damage or kill strawberries have caused researchers from Australia to look into the biochemical mechanisms some resistant varieties use to avoid significant harm.  And, they are discovering how strawberry plants fight Fusarium wilt!

A University of Western Australia release said this discovery could mean growers could use fewer anti-fungal chemicals in the future.  With reduced input costs and better human health and environmental outcomes resulting, this research promises to have significant impact on the strawberry industry in Australia and elsewhere.

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Northern New Mexico Strawberries Studied

northern new mexico strawberries studiedNew Mexico isn't known for its production of strawberries.  However, a new study is underway and looking to determine the feasibility of growing strawberries as a specialty crop in the northern parts of the state.  Fruit tree crops are often damaged by late frosts.  These frosts decimate the production and harvest and profitability of New Mexico farmers.

Strawberries produce fruit in clusters, and their blossoms are often not uniformly destroyed by frosts.  As such, the study currently underway is evaluating whether or not growing strawberries makes sense and can overcome the unique challenges of the region.  So far, of the 16 varieties in the study, Kent, Mesabi, Cavendish, Honeoye, Brunswick, and Cabot have shown the most resistance to cold injury.

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New Strawberry Method Shows Great Promise

new strawberry method shows great promiseStrawberry growers have long sought to increase production to meet the demand for fresh strawberries.  And, demand is high.  The epicenter of world strawberry production is the state of California.  Over 40,000 acres of strawberries are cultivated each year, and approximately half of that total is located in Watsonville and Salinas.  Strawberry cultivation has obstacles to overcome, however.  Soil pathogens have long been a thorn in the flesh of farmers trying to maximize production.  Over the years, numerous attempts have been made to solve the problem of crop loss due to infection from fungal organisms.

Methyl bromide was used as a fumigant to sterilize soil.  After being condemned internationally many years ago, it has slowly been phased out here as well.  Methyl iodide, the replacement fumigant that followed, could have been used on strawberry farms, but was pulled last year after widespread concern over its alleged toxicity was raised by environmental groups.  This void of effective chemical fumigants opened the door for a new, organic production method to prevent disease.

Enter anaerobic soil disinfestation.

Anaerobic soil disinfestation is a new treatment that seems to work as well as past fumigation techniques, without the dangers.  As part of the treatment, carbon sources like rice bran, molasses and grape skins are mixed into the soil.  A tarp is placed over the field, and drip irrigation is used to saturate the planting beds, thus triggering the growth of anaerobic bacteria.  While not completely understood as of yet, the anaerobic bacteria probably produce organic acids that inhibit the fungal organisms.  And, if that wasn't hope-inspiring enough, the process is less-expensive than traditional fumigation methods.

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June Strawberry Festivals

june strawberry festivalsStrawberry festivals are a wonderful source of fun and excitement for kids of all ages and adults too! Strawberry shortcake, pageants, and a host of entertaining events make for a great weekend experience for families. As temperatures rise and summer fun begins, why not celebrate the end of school and the beginning of vacation with one of these fabulous June strawberry festivals?!

The festivals that are happening in June are listed below.  If you can't make one this year, plan ahead!  See the entire directory for the annual events.

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Weekend Fun: Strawberry Festivals!

weekend fun strawberry festivalsStrawberry festivals are a wonderful source of fun and excitement for kids of all ages and adults too!  Strawberry shortcake, pageants, and a host of entertaining events make for a great weekend experience for families.  As strawberry harvest season begins in earnest all around the country, the strawberry festivals coincide.  If you are looking for something to do this weekend, check out these strawberry events.  If you are are even relatively close to where one is occurring, consider making the trip!

The festivals that are happening this weekend are listed below.  However, even MORE festivals are going to be happening over Memorial Day weekend, so if you can't make one this weekend, see the entire directory for those happening throughout the rest of the year.

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Millions of Strawberry Plants…Planted by Hand

millions of strawberry plants planted by handThe article linked in this post makes a few political comments, and it is not the place for this website to delve deeply into the treacherous currents of political discourse.  However, the linked article points out a few of the difficulties associated with growing strawberries commercially.  First and foremost of the difficulties is that strawberry plants are too delicate to plant via mechanized system.

They have to be planted by hand.

So, when the millions upon millions of strawberry plants are planted each year for the annualized plasticulture growing systems, they are inserted into the soil by human digits.  That can make for some tired phalanges.  For a better idea of how the planting process works, watch this video, and then click the link below to proceed straight to the full article:

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New Elevated Strawberry Growing System

From New Zealand comes news of a new elevated strawberry growing system.  The strawberries are grown in elevated systems about a meter off the ground, and are grown in soil and pots.  Although they are fertilized and watered in a precise way, they are not hydroponic since the plants and their roots are anchored […]