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UC research boosts California strawberries industry

The Issue

More than 600 California growers produce strawberries on approximately 30,000 acres each year. These berries are grown from San Diego County up to San Mateo County, and at various locations in the San Joaquin Valley. Approximately 80 percent of these strawberries are University of California-developed varieties. Before any varieties are released to commercial production, they must be tested and evaluated to identify their horticultural, harvest and shipping characteristics, and their pest management requirements for the regions in which they will be grown.

What Has ANR Done?

UC plant breeders are developing and introducing new strawberry cultivars on a regular basis. These introductions require that UC horticulturists, plant pathologists, entomologists, and nematologists – stationed on campuses and in counties throughout California – conduct research and demonstration activities on strawberries on a continuing basis. In cooperation with the California Strawberry Commission, USDA, and other agencies, these scientists conduct greenhouse and field research and demonstrations to determine the best culture and crop management practices for each variety. Research involves variety evaluations, soil management, soil fumigation practices, planting density studies, plant nutrition, irrigation practices, disease, insect and nematode management, weed control, and harvest and postharvest handling at numerous locations throughout California.

The Payoff

High-quality strawberries for US and worldwide consumers

UC research and extension work have consistently provided strawberry varieties and culture information, which allows California strawberry growers to produce high-quality berries for US and worldwide consumers on a year-round basis. It has also made California strawberry growers the most productive in the world. Statewide production per acre averages 25 tons, up to five times the yield of other production areas. Approximately 24,000 acres of California’s strawberries are planted to UC-developed varieties. UC-developed cultivars and cultural practices are also used in many foreign countries and represent more than 50 percent of the world’s strawberry production.
Recently released UC cultivars have improved flavor, color, and shipping qualities. Strawberries are among the top five most frequently consumed fruits in the US. Health-conscious consumers know that strawberries are a delicious source of potassium, vitamin C and other antioxidants, folate, calcium, and magnesium plus other nutrients. Strawberries have become the No. 1 red fruit in the 5-a-Day the Color Way program for children and adults.


Supporting Unit:

UC Davis and UC Riverside, plus San Diego, Ventura, Santa Barbara, Monterey, Santa Cruz, Fresno and Shasta Counties UCCE offices.
Franklin Laemmlen, (805) 934-6240, fflaemmlen@ucdavis.edu; and Hugh Smith, (805) 934-6247, hasmith@ucdavis.edu