Fusarium resistance strawberry
AgTech Fruit Production Plant Science Research University Research

Fusarium-Resistant Strawberry Varieties Released by UC Davis

The University of California, Davis (UC Davis) unveils five new strawberry varieties resistant to Fusarium wilt, a soilborne disease that has caused crop loss and death in the state. These cultivars also have high yields and improved fruit quality and are meant to replace susceptible plants on the market. Since the fumigant methyl bromide was taken out of usage in the United States in 2005, fusarium wilt has become a big issue for strawberry crops in California. UC Davis’ Strawberry Breeding Program has been working on developing cultivars that have Fusarium wilt resistance for some time. With the release of these new strawberry varieties, the program has achieved its goal of having all the cultivars with Fusarium wilt resistance.

The five new cultivars, UC Eclipse, UC Golden Gate, UC Keystone, UC Monarch, and UC Surfline, will be retailed to California nurseries from Foundation Plant Services in April. They are superior to sensitive plants like Monterey, UCD Royal Royce, and UCD Valiant and are predicted to have broad commercial appeal since they give the exact yield or more excellent.

Some of the new cultivars have been created with special features for mechanical harvesting in addition to Fusarium wilt resistance and have been tailored for production in various regions of California. For instance, the “summer plant” cultivar Eclipse, whose yields during research testing were 54% greater than those of comparable cultivars, has the potential to boost producer profitability because it produces throughout the fall and winter. About 60% of the state’s strawberry agricultural acres are used to cultivate Golden Gate and Keystone because they are “day neutral” and produce fruit throughout summer. Surfline and Monarch are “short-day” plants that resist Verticillium wilt and Phytophthora crown rot.

The Strawberry Breeding Program used genetic tools to screen plants and identify the genes resistant to the Fusarium pathogen. This allowed the team to breed resistance and develop new cultivars faster than previous efforts. UC Davis is a significant player in the strawberry industry, with about 88% of strawberries grown in the nation coming from California. With the release of these new cultivars, UC Davis is taking steps to address the need for strawberry cultivars that can withstand pests, disease, and other stressors, ultimately help growers produce high-quality strawberries sustainably.

Image provided by UC Davis

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