The leading strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa) cultivar grown in Florida over the past decade is ‘Strawberry Festival’ (Chandler et al., 2000), which occupied as much as 60% of Florida acreage before the introduction of ‘Florida Radiance’ (Chandler et al., 2009). The durable and flavorful fruit of ‘Strawberry Festival’ continue to make this cultivar a standard in the industry and in worldwide markets despite its decreased fruit size at the end of the growing season. ‘Florida Radiance’ (known as ‘Florida Fortuna’ outside the United States) has since become the leading industry standard in Florida, rapidly increasing to ≈75% of planted acreage in 2014–15 due to its high early and total yields and uniform, large, and attractive fruit.
There is currently a need for additional cultivars with yield potential and fruit size similar to ‘Florida Radiance’ that also have eating quality similar to or better than ‘Strawberry Festival’. Large fruit make harvesting more efficient, and produce buyers place strict limits on minimum average fruit size. These limits can be difficult to achieve for 907 g containers, especially late in the season when the fruit size of all cultivars tends to decrease. Eating quality is also becoming increasingly important, as competition from other winter growing regions such as southern California and central Mexico intensifies. Strawberries that can be differentiated in the market based on their flavor may help Florida growers maintain a competitive edge.
Sensation™ ‘Florida127’ strawberry (hereafter referred to only by the patented name ‘Florida127’) has demonstrated excellent fruit size and eating quality, while also producing high early and total yields in experimental trials. Trials have been conducted on the research plots of the University of Florida Gulf Coast Research and Education Center (GCREC) (Balm, FL), at the Florida Strawberry Growers Association (FSGA) headquarters in Dover, Florida, and in trials on several commercial farms in west-central Florida.
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