By Clint Thompson
Alabama Extension strawberry research trials yielded two viable variety options for growers when compared to Camarosa, the market standard.
Edgar Vinson, assistant research professor and Extension specialist in the department of horticulture at Auburn University, led the research, evaluating five different varieties at the Chilton Regional Research and Extension Center.
“The objective of this study was to determine the production potential and antioxidant concentration of selected strawberry cultivars in order to enhance the sustainability of the strawberry industry in Alabama,” Vinson said.
The study focused on five varieties; Camino Real, Ruby June, Camarosa, Albion, Chandler. The research also centered on specific traits, such as plant size, stolon numbers, yield and fruit quality.
Vinson highlighted Camino Real and Ruby June as viable alternatives for Alabama growers. Camino Real possesses good flavor, 21 grams per berry weight and good yield. It has the lowest soluble solids but similar to Camarosa. Ruby June provides excellent flavor and 22 grams per berry weight. Their sizes and yields are similar to Camarosa, but they provide lower cull fruit.
Camarosa provided the biggest plant size, followed by Chandler, Ruby June, Albion and Camino Real, which is a significantly smaller plant. The size of the plant indicates good overall yield potential since plants that are larger tend to produce more fruit. However, it could also be a management concern.
“Camarosa is a pretty large plant. This can be an issue when you have a U-pick operation. The customers are going to go to the fruit that they see. Often times they leave a lot of fruit behind, and it’s left as inoculum for disease,” Vinson said. “The larger the plant can (also) be a problem when it comes to spraying pesticides. You can have better coverage if you have more space between the plants.”
The plant size of Camino Real allows for closer plantings and visibility of the berries.
Vinson also stresses that growers do not delay in ordering plants, as they could get left behind.
“Place your order as soon as you can, soon as they are available. This will help not only get you the type of berries you want but the number of berries. If you wait too late, you may not be able to get any at all,” Vinson said.