There are many tropical and subtropical species that could greatly benefit from even small research projects, but, in many cases, plant breeding of these species is not justified. Limited research can still provide valuable insights for growers, industry, and members of the community. Below you will find some of these species and relevant project results.
Increased strawberry cultivation in southern Florida could be achieved through the adoption of recently released and specialty strawberry varieties with superior quality. Strawberry cultivation in southern Florida is challenged by environmental factors distinct from other parts of the nation including calcareous soils, growing a temperate crop in a subtropical climate, and high labor and land costs. Additionally, the major market opportunities include mixed business models incorporating agro-tourism and value-added product offerings. Data from systematic trailing of elite, commercial strawberry cultivars with improved yield potential and disease resistance is lacking for southern Florida, and field trials of niche alpine strawberries has not been conducted previously. The current trial is in its third year. The first two growing seasons demonstrates the superior yield of University of Florida cultivars ‘Strawberry Festival’ and ‘Sweet Sensation’. Year 2 marketable yield for ‘Sweet Sensation’ was up to 60% higher than ‘Strawberry Festival’ with a notable contribution from increased Anthracnose fruit spot resistance increasing late season yield. Alpine strawberry yield data over a single season showed that accessions ‘Reine des Vallees’, ‘Baron Solemacher’, ‘Fragolina di Bosco’, ‘Reugen’, and the white fruited ‘White Delight’ had the highest yields of sixteen cultivars tested. Overall, fruit quality data showed few differences for sugars, Brix, or acidity among cultivars. Aroma profiles showed significant differences among cultivars (eg methyl anthranilate), but the impact on sensory quality is yet to be determined. These results demonstrate the rapid yield gains that can be made through the adoption of superior cultivars, and provides foundational information for the establishment of niche alpine strawberry cultivation as a new crop for southern Florida.