Juicy News for Strawberry Lovers
Queensland Strawberry Growers Association (QSGA) released a new Queensland-bred favourite for strawberry lovers to sink their teeth into this season called the ‘Red Rhapsody’. The new strawberry was officially launched on August 19 at Sandstone Point Hotel’s annual Strawberry Festival.
“The new strawberry has been developed by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries to be deep red, easier to grow, more resistant to disease and easier and cheaper to harvest,” said Ms Jennifer Rowling, Strawberry Industry Development Officer for QSGA.
The Red Rhapsody is available in stores now. When you see them, do not be misled by its deep, rose red colour which may lead you to believe that the berries are overripe. It’s actually a very tasty variety and colour is an indication that the strawberries have reached their full flavour.
The new variety is the result of breeding research at DAF’s Maroochy Research Facility in Nambour. The project has been funded by Hort Innovation, using the research and development Strawberry Industry levy and funds from the Australian Government, and co-funded by the Queensland Government.
The Red Rhapsody variety has been developed and delivered as part of a national variety improvement program that is backed by strawberry growers, including QSGA.
“The Red Rhapsody is attractive to growers because it has been specifically developed to enable quicker and less expensive harvesting,” said Ms Rowling. “A producer could have hundreds of thousands of plants, and each plant could have up to 50 fruit – every one of those fruit has to be picked individually by hand.
“The Red Rhapsody has longer stems that enable the fruit to grow away from the bush, making them easier to locate; a high resistance to bruising, meaning they can get to the consumer in good condition despite the rough and tumble of harvesting, packing and transport to shops; and larger berries.”
The demand for the new variety of strawberry plants has so far exceeded supply. Whilst Red Rhapsody strawberries are available now at most retail outlets that sell fruit, the punnets aren’t labelled with the variety name, so the tip is to simply keep an eye out for darker berries.
For more information on Red Rhapsody strawberries, visit www.qldstrawberries.com.au.
Did you know?
Queensland is the biggest producer of strawberries in Australia. There are approximately 100 strawberry growers in Queensland, covering over 600 hectares of land. The majority of growers are located in the Caboolture region, north of Brisbane and up to the Sunshine Coast. Bundaberg is also a growing region for strawberry production. Stanthorpe now has summer production too.
The Queensland Strawberry Industry produces between 6,000 and 15,000 tonnes of fruit per season – that is about 60 million punnets of strawberries each season.