Michigan State University professor James Hancock has developed the first day-neutral strawberry cultivars released outside of California in over 30 years. The new strawberry cultivars, Redstart and Wasatch, are intended for use in the U.S. Midwest and Northeast, and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec, where day-neutral plants are often necessary due to a lesser level of exposure to sunlight.
Hancock, a professor of agriculture and natural resources, won the MSU Technology Transfer Achievement Award in 2014 for his work in northern highbush blueberry cultivars.
Redstart was tested in Benton Harbor and Mount Vernon, Wash., where it fruited for 11 to 13 weeks and five to six weeks consecutively. Though Redstart is a weak day-neutral variety whose flowering performance may be temperature-dependent, it compares favorably to the most widely planted day-neutrals Seascape and Albion. Redstart bests Seascape in yield, fruit size, vigor and flavor, though it is paler in color and only comparable in firmness. Redstart and Albion boast similar flavors, but the two differ in that Redstart outperforms Albion in yield, vigor and color, while Albion experiences larger fruit and slightly better firmness.
Wasatch performed as a strong day-neutral in field trials over three seasons, fruiting an average of 12 weeks in Mount Vernon and eight weeks in Benton Harbor. Similarly to Redstart, Wasatch compares favorably to Seascape and Albion. It has a slightly paler internal color than Seascape and similar firmness; however, it is superior in yield, vigor, fruit size and flavor. Wasatch is not as firm and is smaller-fruited than Albion, but it has higher yields, better fruit color, greater plant vigor and similarly excellent flavor.
To learn more about Redstart and Wasatch, contact Tom Herlache at [email protected] or 517-884-1656.