Strawberry Cultivar Trials for Yield and Fruit Quality in Subtropical Southern Florida

in HortTechnology
Authors:
Maria BrymTropical Research and Education Center, University of Florida, 18905 SW 280th Street, Homestead, FL 33031

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Yuqing FuTropical Research and Education Center, University of Florida, 18905 SW 280th Street, Homestead, FL 33031

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Noah FradeTropical Research and Education Center, University of Florida, 18905 SW 280th Street, Homestead, FL 33031

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Elizabeth BaldwinU.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Horticultural Research Laboratory, 2001 S. Rock Road, Ft. Pierce, FL 34945

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Alan H. ChambersTropical Research and Education Center, University of Florida, 18905 SW 280th Street, Homestead, FL 33031

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Strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa) is grown during the winter months in subtropical southern Florida and must thrive in higher than average temperatures and limestone soils. This is the first strawberry cultivar trial in southern Florida to include ‘Florida Beauty’, ‘Florida Brilliance’, ‘Strawberry Festival’, ‘Florida Radiance’, ‘Sensation FL127’, and ‘Winterstar’. Overall, ‘Strawberry Festival’ and ‘Sensation FL127’ were the top yielding cultivars, with the highest average total yields of 0.7 and 0.8 kg/plant fresh fruit, respectively. ‘Sensation FL127’ had a 36% greater late-season marketable yield compared with ‘Strawberry Festival’. ‘Sensation FL127’ consistently had the greatest soluble solids content (7.6% to 8.7%). Overall, this study demonstrates significant differences in yield and fruit quality among the cultivars tested in southern Florida.

Abstract

Strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa) is grown during the winter months in subtropical southern Florida and must thrive in higher than average temperatures and limestone soils. This is the first strawberry cultivar trial in southern Florida to include ‘Florida Beauty’, ‘Florida Brilliance’, ‘Strawberry Festival’, ‘Florida Radiance’, ‘Sensation FL127’, and ‘Winterstar’. Overall, ‘Strawberry Festival’ and ‘Sensation FL127’ were the top yielding cultivars, with the highest average total yields of 0.7 and 0.8 kg/plant fresh fruit, respectively. ‘Sensation FL127’ had a 36% greater late-season marketable yield compared with ‘Strawberry Festival’. ‘Sensation FL127’ consistently had the greatest soluble solids content (7.6% to 8.7%). Overall, this study demonstrates significant differences in yield and fruit quality among the cultivars tested in southern Florida.

Strawberries (Fragaria ×ananassa) are grown around the world for their soft, delicious fruit. Commercial strawberries are a hybrid between the two American octoploid species beach strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis) and wild strawberry (Fragaria virginiana) (Darrow, 1966). As a temperate species, strawberry is mostly cultivated in the spring and summer months, but winter production is also favorable in subtropical climates. Strawberry cultivation in Florida is concentrated in the west–central part of the state that primarily grows commodity strawberries (Jouquand et al., 2008; Whitaker et al., 2011). Conversely, strawberry production in southern Florida is focused on value-added products and on-farm experiences.

New strawberry cultivars are often high yielding and better tasting than older cultivars, but data are lacking for cultivar performance in southern Florida. ‘Strawberry Festival’ was released in 2000 and is still the most common cultivar in southern Florida because of a lack of cultivar trials in this unique growing environment. New cultivars will only be successful if they are shown to have improved yield and fruit quality compared with ‘Strawberry Festival’.

Local markets rely on high-yielding and higher quality produce compared with commodities to remain competitive (Low and Vogel, 2011). Performance must be determined empirically in each distinct growing environment. Therefore, modern strawberry cultivars were selected from the University of Florida strawberry breeding program to measure yield and quality over multiple growing seasons in southern Florida. The results from this study provide information about strawberry cultivar performance in southern Florida to assist growers with cultivar selection.

Materials and methods

Plant materials

Plants were received as rooted runners from Vance Whitaker (University of Florida, Wimauma, FL) from Crown Nursery (Red Bluff, CA) with green leaves and were planted in October of each season (2016–17, 2017–18, and 2018–19). Cultivars Strawberry Festival (2016–19), Sensation FL127 (2016–19), Florida Beauty (2017–18, 2018–19), Florida Brilliance (2018–19), Florida Radiance (2016–17, 2017–18), and Winterstar (2016–17) (Table 1) were selected based on their potential for improved disease resistance, yield, and/or quality compared with ‘Strawberry Festival’.

Table 1.

Average strawberry plant yield, fruit weight, and fruit quality (soluble solids content, titratable acidity, sucrose, glucose, and total sugars) by cultivar and harvest seasons.

Table 1.

Plant maintenance

All plants were grown at the University of Florida Tropical Research and Extension Center in Homestead, FL. The native soil in this area is calcareous, rocky limestone with a pH range of 7.4 to 8.4 (Li, 2001). Cultivars were grown on raised beds with white plastic mulch. Each cultivar had three replicates of 20 plants (i.e., 60 plants per cultivar per year) grown in two rows of 10 plants with 15-inch plant spacing in a complete randomized design. Additional ‘Strawberry Festival’ plants were used as borders. This design was repeated each year for 3 years. Plants were fertilized daily with 3N–0P–8.3K through dual drip irrigation lines (0.5 lb/acre nitrogen per day). One application of metaldehyde (Deadline® M-Ps; Amvac, Newport Beach, CA) was necessary to control cuban brown snails (Zachrysia provisoria) at the beginning of each season. Plants were established using overhead irrigation for 2 h from 1:00 to 3:00 pm for 5 d.

Yield and fruit quality

Fruit were harvested twice per week at commercial maturity (fully ripe fruit with red coloration to berry shoulders) and sorted between marketable and unmarketable fruit (<10 g or blemished). Fruit quality analyses included at least 25 fruit per replicate. Percent soluble solids content, individual sugars, and titratable acidity as measured by a digital handheld refractometer (PAL-BX Acid F5; Atago, Bellevue, WA) were all measured with two technical replicates from at least three biological replicates at three different timepoints each season as reported previously (Chambers et al., 2018). Sugars were quantified as percent sugar in pureed fruit using high-performance liquid chromatography for the 2016–17 season as described previously (Baldwin et al., 2012).

Statistics

All figures and statistical analyses were created using statistical analysis software (JMP Pro version 13; SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC) for one-way analysis of variance and Tukey’s honestly significant difference test (α ≤ 0.05) for mean separation using season averages for each cultivar.

Results and discussion

Strawberry has broad appeal and could be suitable for cultivation in southern Florida with additional research. Total fruit yield was measured over 3 years for four strawberry cultivars each year (Table 1). ‘Strawberry Festival’ and ‘Sensation FL127’ were consistently among the highest yielding cultivars. Marketable yield generally declined toward the end of the season as average temperatures increased (Fig. 1). Sensitivity to anthracnose (Colletotrichum sp.) increased the number of blemished fruit and therefore the unmarketable yield of ‘Strawberry Festival’. ‘Strawberry Festival’ and ‘Sensation FL127’ marketable yield from December to early April were 211.9 to 402.3 and 288 to 553.6 g/plant, respectively. This was about half the reported yield in central Florida (Whitaker et al., 2015). Clearly more research is needed to optimize strawberry cultural practices in the southern Florida to narrow this yield gap.

Fig. 1.
Fig. 1.

Total strawberry yield, fruit number, and marketable yield (unblemished fruit > 10 g) for six cultivars [Strawberry Festival (Festival), Sensation FL127 (Sensation), Florida Beauty (Beauty), Florida Brilliance (Brilliance), Florida Radiance (Radiance), and Winterstar] as measured for three seasons from 2016–19. Data represent averaged weekly metrics reported per plant from three replicate plots with 20 plants each. Week 1 includes 1 Dec. of each year. Error bars represent se; 1 g = 0.0353 oz.

Citation: HortTechnology 32, 4; 10.21273/HORTTECH05039-22

This study tested six strawberry cultivars for yield and fruit quality in southern Florida (Fig. 1). Weekly fruit yield showed fruit production patterns that are typical for winter production of strawberry. Fruit production generally started in late November, with minor and major yield production peaks observed in the first 6 to 8 weeks and after week 10. ‘Strawberry Festival’ was consistently among the top weekly producers, with ‘Sensation FL127’ yields being comparable with ‘Strawberry Festival’ during the 2017–18 and 2018–19 seasons. The other cultivars did not perform as well as ‘Strawberry Festival’. Overall, total fruit number correlated well (R2 = 0.84) with total yield. Marketable yield differences among cultivars were especially apparent during midseason and late season. ‘Sensation FL127’ had a 36% greater marketable yield than ‘Strawberry Festival’. ‘Florida Beauty’, ‘Florida Radiance’, ‘Florida Radiance’, and ‘Florida Brilliance’ had the lowest marketable yields. ‘Sensation FL127’ had a significantly larger average fruit size each year compared with ‘Strawberry Festival’.

Fruit quality

Strawberry fruit quality can be affected significantly by differences in growing climate and soil types (Whitaker et al., 2011), and preharvest weather can also affect fruit quality at the time of data collection. The only significant cultivar difference for soluble solids content was during the 2017–18 season between ‘Florida Beauty’ and ‘Sensation FL127’, with significantly greater values than ‘Strawberry Festival’ and ‘Florida Radiance’. The overall correlation between titratable acidity and Atago acidity for two seasons was R2 = 0.49. Compared with results from central Florida, ‘Strawberry Festival’ in southern Florida had ≈50% reduced sugar content, ≈30% lower titratable acidity, and similar soluble solids content (Whitaker et al., 2011). ‘Sensation FL127’ and ‘Winterstar’ were in the highest group for sucrose, fructose, glucose, and total sugars content.

Conclusion

The consistently greater marketable yields and high fruit quality of ‘Sensation FL127’ make this an attractive option for growers in southern Florida. The relatively poor performance of cultivars Florida Beauty, Florida Radiance, and Winterstar suggest these are not suitable for cultivation in southern Florida under the conditions used in our study. Additional multiyear evaluation of some cultivars such as Florida Brilliance could identify additional cultivars that could also be suitable for southern Florida. The suitability of strawberry for winter production and access to locally sourced produce for value-added industries could contribute to the expanded cultivation of this crop in southern Florida and in other subtropical locations.

Units

TU1

Literature cited

  • Baldwin, E.A., Bai, J.H., Plotto, A., Cameron, R., Luzio, G., Narciso, J., Manthey, J., Widmer, W. & Ford, B.L. 2012 Effect of extraction method on quality of orange juice: Hand-squeezed, commercial-fresh squeezed and processed J. Sci. Food Agr. 92 10 2029 2042 https://doi.org/10.1002/jsfa.5587

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chambers, A., Moon, P., Fu, Y.Q., Choiseul, J., Bai, J.H., Plotto, A. & Baldwin, E. 2018 Yield and fruit quality of sixteen Fragaria vesca accessions grown in southern Florida HortScience 53 1396 1403 https://doi.org/10.21273/HORTSCI13322-18

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Darrow, G.M 1966 The strawberry: History, breeding and physiology Holt, Rinehart & Winston New York, NY

  • Jouquand, C., Chandler, C., Plotto, A. & Goodner, K. 2008 A sensory and chemical analysis of fresh strawberries over harvest dates and seasons reveals factors that affect eating quality J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 133 859 867 https://doi.org/10.21273/JASHS.133.6.859

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Li, Y 2001 Calcareous soils in Miami-Dade County Univ. Florida Coop. Ext. Serv., Inst. Food Agric. Sci., EDIS. 3 June 2022. <https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/TR004/>

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Low, S.A. & Vogel, S.J. 2011 Direct and intermediated marketing of local foods in the United States Econ. Res. Rep. 128 3 https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2114361

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Whitaker, V.M., Chandler, C.K., Peres, N., Nunes, M.C.D., Plotto, A. & Sims, C.A. 2015 Sensation™ ‘Florida127’ strawberry HortScience 50 1088 1091 https://doi.org/10.21273/HORTSCI.50.7.1088

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Whitaker, V.M., Hasing, T., Chandler, C.K., Plotto, A. & Baldwin, E. 2011 Historical trends in strawberry fruit quality revealed by a trial of University of Florida cultivars and advanced selections HortScience 46 553 557 https://doi.org/10.21273/HORTSCI.46.4.553

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Contributor Notes

A.H.C. is the corresponding author. E-mail: ac@ufl.edu.

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    Fig. 1.

    Total strawberry yield, fruit number, and marketable yield (unblemished fruit > 10 g) for six cultivars [Strawberry Festival (Festival), Sensation FL127 (Sensation), Florida Beauty (Beauty), Florida Brilliance (Brilliance), Florida Radiance (Radiance), and Winterstar] as measured for three seasons from 2016–19. Data represent averaged weekly metrics reported per plant from three replicate plots with 20 plants each. Week 1 includes 1 Dec. of each year. Error bars represent se; 1 g = 0.0353 oz.

  • Baldwin, E.A., Bai, J.H., Plotto, A., Cameron, R., Luzio, G., Narciso, J., Manthey, J., Widmer, W. & Ford, B.L. 2012 Effect of extraction method on quality of orange juice: Hand-squeezed, commercial-fresh squeezed and processed J. Sci. Food Agr. 92 10 2029 2042 https://doi.org/10.1002/jsfa.5587

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chambers, A., Moon, P., Fu, Y.Q., Choiseul, J., Bai, J.H., Plotto, A. & Baldwin, E. 2018 Yield and fruit quality of sixteen Fragaria vesca accessions grown in southern Florida HortScience 53 1396 1403 https://doi.org/10.21273/HORTSCI13322-18

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Darrow, G.M 1966 The strawberry: History, breeding and physiology Holt, Rinehart & Winston New York, NY

  • Jouquand, C., Chandler, C., Plotto, A. & Goodner, K. 2008 A sensory and chemical analysis of fresh strawberries over harvest dates and seasons reveals factors that affect eating quality J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 133 859 867 https://doi.org/10.21273/JASHS.133.6.859

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Li, Y 2001 Calcareous soils in Miami-Dade County Univ. Florida Coop. Ext. Serv., Inst. Food Agric. Sci., EDIS. 3 June 2022. <https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/TR004/>

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Low, S.A. & Vogel, S.J. 2011 Direct and intermediated marketing of local foods in the United States Econ. Res. Rep. 128 3 https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2114361

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Whitaker, V.M., Chandler, C.K., Peres, N., Nunes, M.C.D., Plotto, A. & Sims, C.A. 2015 Sensation™ ‘Florida127’ strawberry HortScience 50 1088 1091 https://doi.org/10.21273/HORTSCI.50.7.1088

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Whitaker, V.M., Hasing, T., Chandler, C.K., Plotto, A. & Baldwin, E. 2011 Historical trends in strawberry fruit quality revealed by a trial of University of Florida cultivars and advanced selections HortScience 46 553 557 https://doi.org/10.21273/HORTSCI.46.4.553

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
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