‘Mayflower’ (East Malling, U.K.) is a mid-late season variety. Photo: Kathy Demchak, Penn State
Here is a brief summary of characteristics of some of the newest strawberry varieties, with notes on how they performed in Pennsylvania if we trialed them.
‘Archer’ (NYSAES-Geneva) is an early-season variety. In PA, it ripened a few days after ‘Wendy’. ‘Archer’ performed better in the cooler central region of the state in a matted-row system than in the southeast where it was in the plasticulture system. The berries got quite soft during warm spells at both sites, but especially so in the southeast. Berry size was quite large, and fruit was nicely colored. Yields were average. It was quite susceptible to fruit gray mold and leaf scorch, so berries are likely to need some fungicide protection.
‘Yambu’ (Fresh Forward, The Netherlands) has not been in formal trials in PA. The breeders state that in its home territory, it is an early mid-season variety with somewhat orange-red fruit that has good flavor. It is said to be somewhat resistant to Botrytis and phytophthora crown rot. The U.S. propagator, Nourse Farms, reports a long harvest season and good productivity and flavor.
‘Purple Wonder’TM (NYSAES – Geneva) is an early-mid season variety that also was not included in formal trials in PA. The fruit is very dark, medium in size, and is said to have very good flavor. It was released primarily for home garden use, and might receive some interest as a novelty fruit in commercial production.
‘Flavorfest’ (USDA-Beltsville) is a mid-season variety that got off to a bit of a rocky start with demand for plants that exceeded supply. Plants for our trials were variable in vigor, and when they were small, got off to a slow start. ‘Flavorfest’ produced really well in its second fruiting year, though, being one of the highest yielders with nice flavor, size, and color in the plasticulture system. We didn’t test it in matted-row production.
‘Herriott’ (NYSAES-Geneva) is a mid-season variety intended for matted-row production. Berries are large, and flavor in our trial was average. The plants were vigorous. It is said to be tolerant of root diseases when planted in fields in which strawberries were previously grown.
‘Mayflower’ (East Malling, U.K.) is a mid-late season variety. In our trials, berries were firm and nicely red. Total yield was on the low side, but a very high percentage of the fruit was marketable even under very low spray management. The few fruit that were unmarketable were affected by fruit anthracnose and tarnished plant bugs, as pressure from both of these was fairly high by the time the latest fruit was ripening.
‘Rutgers Scarlet’ is a mid-late season variety that is intended for use in both matted-row and plasticulture production. It wasn’t included in variety trials in PA, but if it’s anything like other Rutgers selections in our trials, flavor will be fairly intense.
‘Malwina’ is a very late season strawberry that ripens after everything else is finished or nearly so. Fruit is dark red and yields are a bit on the low side. Plants took a while to become established, which negatively affected runner production in the first year, but in matted-row production, the plants renovated well and filled the beds in nicely for their second production year.
Two day-neutral varieties, ‘Redstart’ and ‘Wasatch’ have been released from Michigan State Univ. and have received limited trialing to date. According to release information, both fruited more consistently in a cooler climate (the Pacific Northwest) than in Michigan. ‘Redstart’ is a cross of ‘Honeoye’ and ‘Chandler’. ‘Redstart’ is described as “weak” in the day-neutral tendency which means that it tends to runner more and fruit less during the summer. ‘Wasatch’ is a cross between ‘Seascape’ and a selection resulting from a cross of ‘Tribute’ and ‘Honeoye’ and is described as a “strong day-neutral”, so it tends to fruit more consistently.
In trials in Michigan, both ‘Redstart’ and ‘Wasatch’ out-yielded ‘Albion’ and ‘Seascape’. Size for both was intermediate between ‘Albion’ and ‘Seascape’ as was firmness, and flavor was similar to that of ‘Albion’. Information on disease susceptibilities is limited. Plants of ‘Wasatch’ are currently available, but in very limited quantities.
‘Verity’ (Edward Vinson, U.K) is from the same breeding program that produced cultivars such as ‘Everest’ and ‘Evie 2’, and is said to have improved flavor over them according to European testers. The U.S. propagator (Nourse Farms) recommends high nitrogen for improved yields.
When Ordering Plants, Considering Ordering a Few Extra
As an aside, it might not hurt to order a few extra plants, and discard the ones with the smallest diameters when you are planting. When I look back over the years and the many trials we’ve established, plants that had a crown diameter of ½” or greater always established faster, and produced runners faster to fill in the beds. Sometimes we could only obtain plants of new releases or selections that had a small crown diameter (1/4” or less), and when that was the case, establishment was always delayed. We often didn’t reach maximum yields until a full year later compared to cultivars or selections where we could obtain larger plants. Plants with crown diameters larger than ½” grew even better, as did plants with vigorous root systems.