Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Building a better strawberry

Until I started regularly shopping at a farmer's market, I had no idea that there were different varieties of strawberries, and that you can tell the difference. I have now learned to seek out Gaviota strawberries, which have a superior flavor in my opinion, as well as a beautiful deep red color. I just got my first batch of the season, and it's been worth waiting for. We'll probably have them through June, but they seem to stop earlier in the summer than some of the other varieties. (Camarosas will do when Gaviotas can't be had any more, but they're not the same.) The Gaviotas tend to be more expensive. Perhaps it's because their yield is lower, as I've read in some reports, despite the claims of the University of California to the contrary. (Turns out that the University of California developed the Gaviota variety, among others, and commercially licenses it.) Actually the claim is that the Gaviota's more upright growing form allows more plants to put on the same acreage, making the per-acre yield higher, even though the per-plant yield is lower. Who knew that such things were so studied, but I guess while engineers are always working on a better mousetrap, the agricultural scientists are working on sweeter, good-colored, higher-yield strawberries.

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