Florida strawberries are among the best in the world. To maintain that status and even raise the bar, UF/IFAS scientists searched far and wide to come up with a new contender.
‘Florida Beauty’ is a cross between the UF/IFAS-bred ‘Florida Radiance’ and an Australian selection that also had some UF/IFAS background, according to Vance Whitaker, an Associate Professor of Horticultural Sciences at the UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Balm.
Whitaker likens ‘Florida Beauty’ to ‘Florida Radiance.’ Taste-wise, he says it is similar to ‘Sweet Sensation.’
Scientists and growers are testing the newest variety in limited numbers this season and will be on a few hundred acres next year, Whitaker confirmed. Seven different Florida growers are testing the new variety this season, putting about 20,000 plants on trial. Commercial growers also tested ‘Florida Beauty’ last year but in smaller numbers.
“Growers are interested that it can be planted earlier than the current varieties,” Whitaker said. “It is more suited to the early part of the planting period, the last week of September. It starts producing fruit quickly in early to mid-November and fruits consistently thereafter without becoming overly vegetative, despite the high temperatures in Central Florida in September and October.”
Whitaker estimates Florida growers will plant about 400 acres of ‘Florida Beauty’ during the 2017-2018 season. Its performance next season will largely determine to what extent it is adopted in the industry, he said.