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Ongoing project

National strawberry varietal improvement program (BS17000)

Key research provider: The Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

What’s it all about?

Beginning in mid-2018, this investment continues the work of the national strawberry breeding, evaluation and release program. You can find an overview of the previous investment to support the program here at National strawberry varietal improvement program (BS12021) – it saw 12 new varieties developed and positioned for commercialisation.

Like its predecessor, the current iteration of the program will ensure the Australian strawberry industry has access to improved, locally-adapted varieties into the future, continuing the development and commercial release of superior varieties for targeted environments including temperate, subtropical and Mediterranean growing regions.

The program’s advanced breeding and evaluation approaches are being further enhanced through the inclusion of alternative production systems and the latest advanced in genomics.

Since the last update, the Australian Strawberry Breeding Program has engaged with industry across all production regions. It disseminated trial results and findings, ran two temperate farm walks, attendance, presented at meetings, and published information in the industry newsletter.

Subtropical and Mediterranean breeding trials were planted in March and April 2021. The subtropical trials at Nambour and Bundaberg include 14,091 seedlings, 163 early-stage clones, and 32 advanced clones. This season’s Mediterranean trial is again at Bullsbrook, WA, consisting of 1,787 seedlings, 33 early-stage selections, and 2 advanced clonal selections.

Temperate trials were planted mid-April at Applethorpe, Queensland, and at Wandin, Victoria, in late April/early May. These will include approx. 15,000 seedlings, 71 early- and 38 advanced-stage clones.

Results from the 2020/21 breeding trials were analysed, with a total of 38 early-stage temperate and 10 advanced-stage selections made. On-farm trials of different selections are underway at various locations across all relevant growing regions.


  • PBR protection commenced for two temperate, one subtropical, and one subtropical specialty selection
  • Approximately 950 seeds from five families were sent to the University of Florida in March 2021 as part of a seed exchange
  • Multi-trait genomic prediction modelling was applied to 89 of the 2020 subtropical seedling selections for: fruit abrasion resistance, fruit acidity, fruit brix, fruit bruise resistance, plant bush size, average fruit weight over trial season, yield per plant over trial season, display, proportion of fruit with no rain damage, truss type, and yield per plant.
  • Routine disease resistance screening was undertaken for charcoal rot, Fusarium, Colletotrichum, and powdery mildew.


Read Australian Strawberry Breeding Program Update: Subtropical and Mediterranean end of season reports and temperate trial update on pp.58-61 of Australian Berry Journal, December 2020 edition

Read this ABC Rural news article, White strawberries just one of the new varieties being developed in Australia, published 13 December 2020

Read this article about Screening strawberry varieties for resistance to powdery mildew on pp.78-81 of Australian Berry Journal, March 2021.

Early- and advanced-stage seedling selections were made from 2020 subtropical and Mediterranean breeding trials. Pre-commercial selections from all three growing regions have been virus indexed and initiated into tissue culture, with nine selections entered into AgriBio for high health testing.

Two high-health temperate selections and one subtropical selection have been distributed to runner growers for trialling.

Three new varieties were released to plant producers under Material Transfer Agreements for commercial propagation, and Plant Breeders Rights Part II were submitted for the seven varieties released via project BS12021.

Negotiations are underway with East Malling Strawberry Breeding Club (UK) as a temperate seed exchange partner and seed from University of Florida has been received for trialling in 2021.

Industry engagement and communication activities have been undertaken with some variations due to Covid-19 restrictions.   


Read this Australian strawberry breeding program update on page 50 of the Australian Berry Journal, Winter 2020 edition.

Find out more how the program is being covered in the media:

The project team’s breeding program continued to progress, with pre-commercial selections from all three regions (temperate, sub-tropical and Mediterranean) assessed for virus resistance and progressed to the next stage as tissue culture.

Five of these selections passed high health testing and have been distributed to runner growers for trialling. Routine disease resistance screening is being conducted and inoculation experiments are underway.

All advanced selections have been screened for the presence of a ‘peach’ flavour trait, with the screening for a ‘sherry’ flavour trait discontinued.

Numerous industry engagement and communication activities were undertaken across all three production regions, including attendance and presentations at meetings, publications in the industry newsletter, and on-farm visits. Access information on the Berries Australia website.

Temperate, subtropical and Mediterranean breeding trials were planted in March and April 2019. Key developments in each region include:


  • Eleven advanced temperate selections are still being trialled in on-farm trials in Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, Western Australia, and the Granite Belt in Queensland as part of the 2018/19 temperate season. In total, temperate region trials include 13,220 seedlings, 78 early stage clones, and 28 advanced stage clones, located across Wandin in Victoria and Applethorpe in Queensland.


  • The subtropical pale-fruited selection assessed in on-farm trials in 2018 is being trialled again in 2019 on eight farms in south-east Queensland. An additional seven advanced subtropical selections, including a second pale-fruited selection, are being trialled in two first stage on-farm trials.

  • All subtropical advanced selections and parents have been screened for the presence of genetic markers for ‘sherry’ and ‘peach’ flavours. A total of 12,646 subtropical seedlings are being assessed, along with 108 early stage clones and 42 advanced stage clones. These trials are located at Nambour and Bundaberg in Queensland, and include both ground and substrate culture.


  • For the Mediterranean region, eight advanced selections were placed on an on-farm trial in the Wanneroo area, and one selection in a second on-farm trial in the same region. 763 seedlings, 7 early and 2 advanced stage Mediterranean clonal material were planted and placed in on-farm trials in April 2019 at a grower’s property in Bullsbrook, WA.

All selections tested in on-farm trials in 2019 have been virus indexed, established in tissue culture, DNA profiled, and entered into Agribio for disease-free certification.

Screening for powdery mildew resistance is also underway with 344 seedlings and 2 early and 20 advanced clones planted under plastic cover at Maroochy Research Facility.

The researchers report that large-scale breeding trials are well underway…

  • Trials for temperate regions so far involve more than 14,000 seedlings, 70 early stage clones, and 12 advanced stage clones, and are located across Wandin in Victoria and Applethorpe in Queensland.

  • Meanwhile, more than 8500 subtropical seedlings were assessed between May to September 2018, along with 181 early stage clones and 42 advanced stage clones. The plants are being grown in trials located at Nambour and Bundaberg in Queensland, which include both ground and substrate culture.

  • Early and advanced stage Mediterranean clonal material was placed in on-farm trials in 2018, with one trial producing promising selections for plantings during 2019.

  • Also regarding on-farm trials, 11 temperate selections are currently being trialled on-farm in Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, Western Australia and the Granite Belt in Queensland, with some showing early promise. Results from one subtropical pale-fruited specialty selection will see it trialled again in second-stage on-farm trials in 2019.

  • Regarding screening, seedlings have been tested for resistance to Fusarium, Colletotrichum and Macrophomina, with screening for powdery mildew resistance happening during 2019. All temperate 2018/19 advanced selections and parents have also been screened for the presence of genetic markers for ‘sherry’ and ‘peach’ flavours.

  • Communication has been a priority for the team, who delivered presentations at three grower events, attended a variety field days, published articles in the industry newsletter and even made a segment for the children’s science TV program Scope.


Read more on the program in two articles produced by Berries AustraliaNew varieties for all Australian strawberry growers and Breeding varieties for all Australian strawberry growers into the future.

Related levy funds

This project is a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Strawberry Fund