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Strawberry History, Genetics and Sustainability

By Forrest Scharf. PAg, Provincial Specialist, Fruit Crops

Cabrillo day-neutral strawberry
Cabrillo day-neutral strawberry
going dormant in late September

If growers are interested in learning more about the history and genetics of strawberry; an informative webinar was recently made available from a Cornell University, Horticulture Seminar Series.

The seminar touches on the characteristics of many of the wild types of strawberry, that are generally either diploid 2x, or tetraploid 4x in chromosome level, and also talks about the commercial varieties that are octoploid 8x, and how these varieties came about and were dispersed.

Dr. Bob Bors has done some strawberry breeding at the University of Saskatchewan, including using wild types to bring unique characteristics into commercial varieties, and there continue to be numerous public and private strawberry breeding programs around the world that strive to improve the quality and sustainability of this fruit.

As most growers know, strawberry is one of the most sought after fruit. If you run a Upick, you should have some strawberries to draw people to your business. It is generally a profitable crop, but it often requires a higher level of management than other types of fruit. Saskatchewan growers traditionally have not obtained the high yields that are reported in other jurisdictions, in large part because the growth season is somewhat too short.

Growing strawberries under low tunnels or high tunnels is a viable option to increase yields and extend the season of their availability. Analysis of the return-on-investment (ROI) for the various management techniques to grow strawberries in Saskatchewan has not been done; but various growers have expanded their production of high-tunnel strawberries and there is also interest in greenhouse production of day-neutral varieties.

If growers are interested in learning more about the use of high-tunnel or low-tunnel production systems, please email Forrest Scharf, provincial fruit crops specialist.

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