New Strawberry Variety Could Boost Early Season Shipments from Florida

New Strawberry Variety Could Boost Early Season Shipments from Florida

A strawberry variety with higher yields in November and December, when the season is starting and berries are in demand has been developed by
University of Florida researchers.

Named Florida Brilliance, the new variety, is gaining such interest among growers that it could account for 40 to 50 percent of Florida strawberry acreage next season, according to a university news release

Longer shelf life and better flavor are also attributes of Florida Brilliance.

The berry has a “glossy, shiny appearance,” according to Vance Whitaker, associate professor of horticultural sciences at the university’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

“Our farmers need to produce more strawberries during this period in order to remain profitable,” Whitaker said in a news release. “This variety has beautiful, flavorful fruit that is available consistently throughout the season, from Thanksgiving to late March in Florida, and thus on grocery store shelves in the eastern United States during this period.”

Grower Adam Young of Dover, FL., planted Florida Brilliance on 45 acres, about one-quarter of his production.

“It takes the weather better,” Young said in the release. “The fruit shape is more uniform. It definitely looks like we’re going to use it as our workhorse.”

Whitaker and his colleagues at the university’s Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Balm developed the berry through conventional cross-pollination, choosing “parent” strawberries with different but complementary characteristics, according to the release.

Florida Brilliance is being grown on about 1,500 acres in Hillsborough County, about 15 percent of the overall crop in Florida, according to the Florida Strawberry Growers Association. That’s significantly higher than first-year commercial plantings from past university releases.

“Growers tell us that this variety will replace the current standard Florida Radiance as quickly as planting stock is available,” Whitaker said in the release. “Next year, 40 to 50 percent of the industry could be planted in this variety.”

Florida Brilliance resists many diseases, Whitaker said, and is easy to harvest because it has long stems and an open plant canopy.