Florida Strawberry Growers Have A Sweet Sensation On Their Hands

'Sweet Sensation' strawberry cluster for display purposes
‘Sweet Sensation’ (Florida 127)
Photo courtesy of Ekland Marketing Company

When it comes to hitting a sweet spot with consumers, the latest strawberry variety from UF/IFAS appears to have all the necessary characteristics.

According to a newly published study in the journal Scientia Horticulturae, ‘Sweet Sensation‘ (Florida127) variety lasts longer on the shelf and tastes sweeter than two other comparable UF/IFAS cultivars, making it more attractive to faraway markets.

Scientists studied traits of ‘Sweet Sensation,’ which was released commercially in the 2014-2015 growing season, and compared them to those of ‘Florida Radiance’ and ‘Strawberry Festival.’

“These two attributes together make for a clear step up in eating quality for the consumer,” said Vance Whitaker, an Associate Professor of Horticultural Sciences and Strawberry Breeder at the UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Balm.

To conduct testing, scientists received samples of all three varieties produced and packaged by growers on several different dates over two growing seasons, Whitaker said. This allowed researchers to look at quality traits over a range of conditions and environments present in the Florida strawberry industry.

On each harvest date, the fruit was placed in cold storage conditions that simulated the commercial cold chain conditions — on trucks, in the store, and more. Scientists measured quality attributes before and during the cold storage period to see how they fluctuated over time. They wanted to know the quality from the time the strawberries are picked to the time they are eaten by the consumer. Scientists tested color, decay, shriveling, firmness, taste and aroma for the three varieties.

In addition to a longer shelflife and sweeter taste, ‘Sweet Sensation’ stood out as more attractive and flavorful, the study noted.

According to Whitaker, Gary Wishnatzki, President and CEO of Wish Farms in Plant City, is growing a lot more ‘Sweet Sensation’ this year than last year because of its flavor.

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