Monday, March 5, 2012

Speaking of Strawberries - 'Purple Wonder'

'Purple Wonder' (left) strawberry's deep burgundy color extends throughout the fruit. Click image for larger view
Picture courtesy of Cornell University
I just read this press release from Cornell University on the introduction of a new variety of strawberry called 'Purple Wonder':
“Purple Wonder is sweet and aromatic, with outstanding strawberry flavor,” said Courtney Weber, Cornell small fruits breeder and associate professor of horticulture. “But the color is something you won’t be able to find in any grocery store.”

They'll be introduced to the public at the Philadelphia Flower Show this week.  You can buy plants from Burpee.

Much like the market in fresh tomatoes, strawberries have undergone a re-emphasis on breeding for flavor, not just disease resistance and ease-of-shipping characteristics, in recent years.  Here's an article from December, 2010 describing some of the science and history behind breeding strawberries for flavor, after having sequenced its genome:
The sequencing project was initiated at Virginia Tech, where researchers had already done genetic work on this variety of strawberry. The sequencing was done without national grants. Instead, funding came internally from the research institutions and the strawberry industry, and most of the researchers involved donated time, according to Folta, who said he acted as a coordinator for the project.
I'll probably wait a year or two for the price to come down, but the fact that 'Purple Wonder' lends itself to container growing, coupled with the decidedly different color, and touted flavor means I'll probably give it a try in my garden.

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