National strawberry varietal improvement program (BS12021)
What’s it all about?
To ensure the Australian strawberry industry has access to improved, locally-adapted varieties into the future, this national breeding project continued the development and commercial release of superior strawberry varieties for targeted environments.
Initially focused on developing varieties adapted to subtropical climatic regions, during its course the project grew in scope to include breeding for Australia’s temperate and Mediterranean production regions (which included taking management of the existing Victorian Strawberry Breeding Program).
Twelve new strawberry varieties were developed, protected under Plant Breeder’s Rights, and positioned for commercialisation under its work.
For subtropical production, there were seven varieties:
- Red Rhapsody
- Parisienne Kiss
- Scarlet Rose-ASBP
For temperate production there were two:
- Summer Song
For Mediterranean production there were three:
To produce the new varieties, individual breeding targets for each production region were set in consultation with the local industries, with desirable traits including improved resistance to the crown wilt diseases Macrophomina phaseolina (charcoal rot), Colletotrichum gloeosporioides and Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. fragariae. Building on the breeding strategy developed in earlier industry work, the project incorporated quantitative genetic analysis and economic modelling of fruit and plant traits to guide crossing and selection decisions.
The project team reported that, “in 2017, varieties from the Australian Strawberry Breeding Program (ASBP) captured 44 per cent of the subtropical market and 19 per cent of the national market. These plantings had a farm-gate value of approximately $78 million and contributed approximately 2700 jobs in production. Indications from runner growers suggest that 2018 sales of ASBP varieties will be substantially higher than 2017 levels.” There is still more work to be done for the temperate and Mediterranean regions, with other potential new varieties in the pipeline.
Subsequent investment National strawberry varietal improvement program 2017-2022 (BS17000) was established to carry on breeding and variety evaluation work for the industry.
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This project has been funded by Hort Innovation, using the strawberry research and development levy and contributions from the Australian Government. Hort Innovation is the grower‐owned, not‐for‐profit research and development corporation for Australian horticulture.