Late Autumn Winter Spring strawberries for profit and consumer appeal - 2008/Department of Employment, Economic Development & Innovation09 (BS08006)
This is a final research report from Hort Innovation’s historical archives. Please note that as these reports may date back as far as the 1990s, the content and recommendations within them may be superseded by more recent research.
What was it all about?
Strawberries had a national production valued at about $250m at the time. There were two major production periods, the ‘Late Autumn Winter Spring’ (LAWS) period focused on SE Queensland; and remaining production period focused in Southern states with a smaller focus north of Perth WA.
The necessary profitability in the competitive global market could be increased by cultivars that: minimised plant losses, labour requirements, variations in labour requirement, and maximised pack-out percentage, consumer appeal, enjoyment and choice in the supply chain. Our strategic one year LAWS project was developed to achieve a ‘business as usual work’ approach while strategically aligning national longer term research efforts and priorities, embracing applicable frontier technologies and using information in a smart manner to develop new cultivars. The program was initiated to produce: a new breeding project proposal; at least one cultivar released to final testing stage; and documented progress toward a suite of new strawberry cultivars with improved production characteristics and high consumer acceptance and suitable for planting in all relevant Australian production areas.
We developed an innovative project ‘National strawberry varietal improvement program – subtropical regions’ HAL R&D project (BS09013) following extensive stakeholder consultations and project modifications.
We identified from glasshouse inoculation trials two (17337 and 13581) of nine isolates of Fusarium oxysporum f.sp fragariae as highly pathogenic and which could be used in breeding Fusarium resistant cultivars to reduce plant losses and improve industry economics.
We implemented a crossing and introduction and evaluation schedule for the 2008-2009 season, with a focus on larger fruit size, productivity and high consumer acceptability comprising 48 parents, 14500 seedlings and 362 clones. The finally selected 18 primary clones promised significant progress toward our long term target of equalising production from May 1 to Sept 30 at 60g/plant/week. For example while Festival, the current major cultivar, had 3-4 of 17 weekly harvests where yield was at least 60g/plant, some project clones (2006-475, 2007-302) doubled the frequency (10 of the 17 weekly harvests) toward the target production characteristic.
Samples of nineteen high quality productive selections were established ‘on-farm’ locally and interstate. In the ‘advanced stage’ ‘on-farm’ trial, selection ‘2006-019’ and ‘2006-215’ were of most continued interest among project selections, while the intermediate stage trial line ‘2006-475’ also performed well in ‘on-station’ and initial ‘on- farm trials’. One grower reported that he expected total yields of 2kg per plant by end October from ‘2006-475’.
The technological and advanced selection outputs from this project positioned the subtropical and national strawberry industry and its genetic improvement programs in an excellent position for further progress.
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This project was funded by Hort Innovation (then Horticulture Australia Limited) with the voluntary financial support of the strawberry industry.
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