DAVIS (CBS13) — California strawberries are about to get sweeter and a lot better for the planet too.

UC Davis researchers have engineered five new varieties that are pesticide-resistant, produce fuller fruit, and are cutting costs for farmers.

Steve Knapp, the director of the UC Davis Strawberry Breeding Program, said their goal is to produce fruit every week of every month.

Researchers say their five new varieties of strawberries will help farmers cut costs and control disease.

“One called Royal Royce, one’s called Moxie, and when they’re grown in the Coastal California area, they produce fewer runners,” said Knapp.

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The runners, or long stems, produce more fruit so they’re routinely cut back by growers.  It’s labor-intensive and costly, so researchers have genetically managed to reduce labor cost by $5,000 an acre and produce more fruit by preventing the growth.

“I think the industry has high input costs, they need high yielding varieties, they need high yielding plants to succeed,” Knapp said.

UC Davis researchers have patented 60 varieties of strawberries sold nationwide and have been looking for innovative ways to help growers. The program has been around since the 1930s and now 60% of California strawberries are varies created at UCD.

The five new varieties are not on store shelves yet, and UC Davis researchers say shoppers will soon have strawberries for every season

“There’s bigger and bigger opportunities to grow year-round,” Knapp said.

Researchers are now testing ways to enhance the aroma of the berries and say the strawberries are richer in color and taste better.


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