PROMISING new Australian-bred strawberry varieties were on display at the Strawberry Growers Association field day last week.
Breeders, farmers and biotechnologists met at the site of the new Southern Node breeding program in Wandin North to discuss the future of the Australian strawberry industry.
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The focus of this year's breeding program was enhancing flavour and productivity.
RMIT biotechnology specialist Eddie Pang said breeding strawberries designed for the Australian climate would increase productivity and provide consumers with the colour, taste and aroma they expected.
"Things like sunburn, resistance to brown rot and aphids, are all concerns when breeding for the conditions," Prof Pang said.
He also spoke about the way Australian varieties held up against Dutch, American and Japanese counterparts in Aussie crops.
Three main varieties - the Adina, Juliette and Kalinda - were under the microscope as success stories of the breeding program.
The field day also discussed the need for hardier varieties, which did not bruise and came away easily when picked.
Southern Node breeding project manager Hinga Marsh said the day was a great opportunity for the industry to see what it could expect from the breeding program, which began only two years ago.
"The whole idea of today was to get growers out to taste and see if we're making any progress in the flavour department," Mr Marsh said.
"Phenotypic traits, such as appearance, taste, colour, shape, aroma, insect resistance and firmness are all aspects we're looking at.
"We want to find a good fruit that stands up well to production and arrives at the consumers in the condition you want."
RMIT students Olajumoke Adegbola and Patrice O'Farrell were on hand to lab-test the hundreds of unnamed varieties being trialled by Mr Marsh.