National strawberry varietal improvement program (BS17000)
What was it all about?
From 2018 to 2022, this investment has continued the development and commercial release of superior strawberry varieties for targeted environments, including temperate, subtropical, and Mediterranean-growing regions. These efforts ensure that the Australian strawberry industry will have access to improved, locally-adapted varieties in the future.
In 2021/22, varieties from the Australian Strawberry Breeding Program (ASBP), including varieties from this project and previous projects, captured 47 per cent of the national market, with a farm gate value of approximately $218 million.
Individual breeding targets for each production region (temperature, subtropical and Mediterranean) were specifically defined in consultation with local industry in each region to support a sustainable and profitable national strawberry industry. Traits included, among other targets, developing varieties for substrate culture as well as improved resistance to the crown wilt diseases colletotrichum crown rot, fusarium wilt , and charcoal rot , as well as powdery mildew.
The research team built the general breeding strategy upon the successful pipeline developed in the previous iteration of the project National strawberry varietal improvement program (BS12021). They also enhanced the approach by incorporating genomic prediction and marker-assisted selection methodologies.
The project developed and positioned six new strawberry varieties for commercialisation, locally adapted to Australia’s growing regions and satisfying Australian consumer expectations. These included one variety targeted for subtropical production, ‘Susie-ASBP’, and another with Plant Breeder’s Rights part I application soon to be submitted (proposed name ‘Stella-ASBP’). Two varieties targeted for temperate production have been released: ‘Tahli-ASBP’ and ‘Tamara-ASBP’. Six semi-commercial Mediterranean selections have been trialled on-farm, with two identified for potential commercial release pending industry feedback. All varieties performed well in both substrate culture and in-ground production. Additionally, two specialty varieties originating from the subtropical node have been released for tender for commercialisation: a pink and white blush variety ‘SB17-230’ASBP’, and a white variety ‘SW20-317-ASBP’.
Two peer-reviewed journal articles were published, along with 12 articles featured in the Australian Berry Journal. The researchers delivered nine presentations at conferences, 14 at industry meetings and field days, and ten breeding trial tours given. The media covered the project extensively, with 25 interviews conducted for radio, television, websites, and podcasts.
This project was a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Strawberry Fund