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The beginning of the season of maximum strawberry production in Florida fills its markets with tasty fruits

This strawberry season has been incredible in terms of flavor and quality for Florida.


Vance Whitaker, a UF/IFAS strawberry breeder.

We are at the height of the strawberry harvest season in Florida, a time when growers are doing their best to ensure that consumers can select the best strawberries as one of their favorite fruits at the market.

"This strawberry season has been incredible in terms of flavor and quality for Florida," said Kenneth Parker, executive director of the Florida Strawberry Growers Association.

Parker thanked Vance Whitaker, a UF/IFAS strawberry breeder, who has developed several new varieties in recent years. Strawberry breeders at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center (GCREC) have developed varieties such as Florida Pearl, Florida Medallion, ‘Florida Brilliance’ and Sweet Sensation.

Florida Pearl, a variety marketed in 2020, gets its name from its unusual white exterior. It has a unique flavor and some consumers have told UF/IFAS experts that it tastes like pineapple or apricot.

The other recent varieties are red, have a sweet flavor and produce high yields, say UF/IFAS experts.

"Producers look for characteristics that consumers will be interested in, such as flavor, color, shape and shelf life," Whitaker explained. "Growers also look for important factors in growing varieties, such as yield, disease resistance and ease of harvest."

Farmers grow more 'Florida Brilliance' than any other UF/IFAS cultivar, confirmed Whitaker, professor of horticultural sciences at GCREC.
The main UF/IFAS varieties consumed by the public are 'Florida Brilliance', Medallion and Sensation, Whitaker listed.

Although these fruits are not marketed using their cultivar names, you can always look for Florida-grown strawberries or ask your produce manager.

Since many consumers buy strawberries, their consumption translates into around $500 million annually in net monetary value (value of a product in the market minus its cost to sell).

Hillsborough County, which leads the state in strawberry production, grows about 90% of the estimated 13,500 acres each year. Manatee and Polk counties also grow strawberries.

These strawberries go directly to Florida markets and provide a nutritious snack for consumers across the state and other parts of the United States.

Producers must face some challenges to bring their product to market, including pests and diseases. But thanks to better management practices, this fruit sells well in the international market, said Wael Elwakil, UF/IFAS fruit and vegetable Extension agent in Hillsborough County.
Whitaker is pleased with the way the breeding program has helped meet the needs of producers and consumers.

"I am very proud that for many years we have met the needs of our producers, continually providing them with better varieties," he said. "On the consumer side, I'm very proud that we've continued to increase the flavor, which we hope will encourage people to eat more strawberries. It's hard to go wrong by consuming more of something that is so beneficial."

Growers are looking forward to the release of two new, as-yet-unnamed cultivars, which UF/IFAS hopes to introduce next year, Parker said.
"UF/IFAS continues to work towards excellence in its breeding program and the future looks even more promising," he stated.


The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources, and to make that knowledge available to maintain and improve the quality of human life. UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences has more than a dozen research centers, 67 counties with extension offices, as well as award-winning students and faculty. UF/IFAS offers science-based solutions to the state's agricultural and natural resource industries, as well as all Florida residents.

The “Food Is Our Middle Name” Campaign

Feeding a hungry world takes effort. Almost everything we do is about food: from growing it and getting it to consumers to conserving natural resources and supporting agricultural efforts. 

Florida Pearl, a variety marketed in 2020, gets its name from its unusual white exterior.
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