One of the problems with strawberry farming in Florida is that the lowest yield comes in November and December, but scientists at the University of Florida think they've come up with a solution to that problem: the "Florida Brilliance."
"Our farmers need to produce more strawberries during this period in order to remain profitable," says Vance Whitaker, an associate professor of horticultural sciences at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, in a university blog
. "This variety has beautiful, flavorful fruit that is available consistently throughout the season ... and thus on grocery store shelves in the eastern United States during this period."
He adds: "Much of the beauty of the fruit comes from its glossy, shiny appearance, thus the name 'Florida Brilliance.'"
Aside from higher yields, the Florida Brilliance strain also has a longer shelf life and better flavor.
The new strawberry strain was developed through conventional cross-pollination, with an emphasis on complementary characteristics that result in better fruit for the consumer, a longer shelf life and an increase in flavor.
According to the Florida Strawberry Growers Association, farmers are already growing 1,500 acres worth of Florida Brilliance strawberries in Hillsborough County, topping the previous record of another strawberry variety called "Florida Beauty," which consisted of a 500-acre crop in 2017.
Whitaker told the blog that the Florida Brilliance variety also resists a number of diseases, which in turn cuts production costs, and that it's easy to harvest due to having long stems and an open plant canopy that allows pickers to better spot the fruit.
"This is definitely unusual and represents the high level of interest generated among growers from trials the last two years," says Whitaker. "Growers tell us that this variety will replace the current standard 'Florida Radiance' as quickly as planting stock is available. Next year, 40 to 50 percent of the industry could be planted in this variety."
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