There is a need in Queensland winter strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa Duch.) production areas for a highly flavored, early-ripening cultivar to replace or be an alternative to ‘Kabarla’ (Herrington, 1995). ‘Kabarla’ has benefited the Queensland strawberry industry through its high production of fruit early in the season, when market prices are typically high. However the shape of ‘Kabarla’ fruit is often irregular, with a high frequency of small fruit, which limit its marketability when fruit of other cultivars are readily available. ‘Sweet Charlie’ (Chandler et al., 1997) and ‘Earlibrite’ (Chandler et al., 2000a) have been tested in Queensland as early-yielding cultivars, but have not become established because they lack sufficient earliness, resistance to bruising, or uniformity of fruit shape. ‘Strawberry Festival’ (Chandler et al., 2000b) was recently introduced to Queensland and has rapidly become a major early-season cultivar with fruit and plant attributes desirable to growers, although ‘Strawberry Festival’ commences production slightly after ‘Kabarla’. The cultivar ‘Rubygem’ was developed to provide early-season production of high-flavored fruit. ‘Rubygem’ strawberry has produced high early-season (May through August) yields of moderately firm, attractive fruit at the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries (DPI&F) research stations in Nambour and Cleveland, and in several commercial fields in the Caboolture district in Southeast Queensland. It is recommended for trial in areas with mild winter climates, especially where rainfall is unlikely and a very early, well-flavored berry is required. The name ‘Rubygem’ was chosen after studying a survey presented to consumers because of the consumer appeal of the name, and the flavorful characteristics and color of ‘Rubygem’ fruit.
Chandler, C.K. , Legard, D.E. , Dunigan, D.D. , Crocker, T.E. & Sims, C.A. 2000b ‘Strawberry Festival’ strawberry HortScience 35 1366 1367
Hutton, D. & Gomez, A. 2006 The incidence of fusarium wilt in Queensland cultivars 193 198 Menzel C.M. & Waite G.K. Horticulture Australia projects BS01002, BS04001 and BS05003 Horticulture Australia Ltd Sydney