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 integrated a team of specialists and researchers into the evaluation process for identifying competitive characteristics of potential new cultivars. Using advanced technologies, he has been able to make more precise evaluations of seedlings at early stages, significantly speeding up the cultivar development process.
Dr. Whitaker’s strawberry breeding program develops cultivars adapted to the subtropical conditions of Florida. Commercial production is concentrated on over 4,000 ha in west-central Florida at 28 degrees of latitude. 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, rainfall and humidity
- Consistently sweet flavor
- Resistance to multiple diseases of economic importance