University of Florida
Strawberry Breeding Program
Dr. Vance Whitaker builds upon the strong foundation of variety research and development established by his predecessor, Dr. Craig Chandler. Dr. Whitaker has assembled a team of specialists and researchers for identifying and evaluating the competitive characteristics of potential new cultivars. Using advanced technologies, he has evaluated seedlings at early stages, significantly speeding up the cultivar development process.
Dr. Whitaker’s strawberry breeding program develops cultivars adapted to commercial production at 28 degrees of latitude in west-central Florida’s Atlantic humid, subtropical conditions. Strawberry production is concentrated on 4,000 ha on the Gulf coast near Plant City. The criteria for selection include:
- High marketable yields, especially in November, December and January, with even and consistent fruiting throughout the entire season
- Excellent pollination, fruit appearance, fruit size and shelf life under variable temperatures, high humidity and occasional rainfall
- Consistently sweet flavor
- Resistance to multiple diseases of economic importance