Strawberry Business Is Booming

strawberry business

strawberry businessThe strawberry business is booming.  Strawberry production in 2017 has already surpassed the year's total for 2016 in the state of California.  And, since California is the largest single producer of the tasty fruits in the entire world, it is likely that worldwide strawberry production is up as well.  As Tim Hearden reported in the Capital Press, the crate production in California is up to 197.3 crates through November, which surpasses the 2017 total by 0.5 million crates.

Strawberry Business Overcomes Weather

What makes the 2017 haul even more remarkable is that unfavorable weather dominated for extended periods this year.

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Contaminated Strawberries Still a Problem

contaminated strawberries

contaminated strawberriesThe familiar taste and wonderful aroma may not be all you are getting from your local supermarket when you buy a clam shell carton of your favorite spring and summer fruit.  According to the annual list compiled by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), contaminated strawberries are still a problem.  Each year, the EWG analyzes data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration.  The then compile their lists: the Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen.  The Dirty Dozen are the top 12 fruits and vegetables that contain the highest and most numerous residual amounts of pesticides and other potentially harmful chemicals on/in the foods we consume.

Are Contaminated Strawberries Necessary?

Due to the fragility of strawberries, many pesticides and other chemicals are often used in the conventional production of the crops.  The chemicals and technologies have allowed the strawberry industry to be a multi-billion dollar industry.  However, what price do we pay over the long haul by consuming trace amounts of the chemicals used in their cultivation?  The verdict is out, but it is generally accepted that eating contaminated strawberries is less desirable than eating uncontaminated ones.

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The Archer Strawberry Variety

archer strawberry variety

archer strawberry varietyIt 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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Ancient Strawberry Plants Genetic Sequencing

ancient strawberry plants

ancient strawberry plantsStrawberry 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.

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New Strawberry Varieties in Development

new strawberry varieties in development

new strawberry varieties in developmentDetails 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 & Seeds

strawberry delizz

strawberry delizzDelizz 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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Growing Strawberries with New Techniques

growing strawberries with new techniques

growing strawberries with new techniques29 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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Hydroponic Strawberry Farms Adapting to Water Shortage

hydroponic strawberry farms

hydroponic strawberry farmsWater 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.

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Strawberries on the Verge of Helping Diabetics

strawberries on the verge of helping diabetics

strawberries on the verge of helping diabeticsDiabetes 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.

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Growing Strawberries in Bangladesh

growing strawberries in bangladesh

growing strawberries in bangladeshStrawberries 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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