The history and science behind Florida's long-running strawberry industry
Vance Whitaker, with the UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Wimauma, discusses the science behind breeding the berries and offers insight into the … umm … field.
Florida has been the winter strawberry capital of the United States for more than 100 years.
It began with entrepreneur and railroad magnate Henry B. Plant, who settled Plant City and constructed a 23-mile rail line to Tampa so farmers could develop a market for strawberry crops.
On WGCU’s “Gulf Coast Life” program, we learn more about the science behind breeding strawberries, and get some insight into this long-running agriculture industry in the Sunshine State.
The guest is Vance Whitaker, who leads Strawberry Breeding and Genetics program at the UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center.
The annual Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City dates to 1930 and has been running continuously except for a break during World War II. This year’s festival is slated for March 2-12.
The University of Florida Institute of Food & Agricultural Sciences, or UF/IFAS, has been developing new strawberry varieties for farmers since the late 1940s at its Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Wimauma.
The luscious red berries we find at the market are quite different then what would have been grown in the early days, a result of decades of careful breeding programs to bring out the best in the fruit.
Strawberry harvest season in Florida goes from December through April, and these days Florida farmers grow strawberries on about 12,000 acres and generate more than $300 million in crops each year.
Click on the Listen button above to hear the discussion.