Scientists from the Beltsville Agricultural Research Centers Genetic Improvement of Fruits and Vegetables Laboratory developed a novel mid-season strawberry variety released as Flavorfest.
Named for its superior fruit flavor, Flavorfest strawberries are large, bright red, and appear distinctively plump. The cultivar is expected to best adapt to the Mid-Atlantic and northeastern U.S. and adjacent areas. In particular, Flavorfest is well-suited to replace Chandler, the current bestselling strawberry in the Mid-Atlantic region, because it is highly resistant to a fungal disease advancing in the region and shows some resistance to other less problematic species.
The Laboratory team actively promoted the new strawberry by first executing a material transfer/propagation agreement with Lassen Canyon Nursery, the dominant strawberry nursery in California. Thereafter, plant test agreements were executed with reputable American and Canadian nurseries and producers for testing the cultivar. Upon obtaining positive feedback from Lassen and other growers testing Flavorfest, and from results at the lab in Beltsville, Maryland, a plant invention disclosure was filed along with a request for public release.
In January 2013, Lassen had approximately 13,500 plants on hand to distribute. By the end of February 2013, as a result of marketing activities by the Laboratory team, Lassen had received orders from nurserymen for 36,000 plants. There was so much demand that sales were limited to nurseries only, and sales depleted the entire stock available for sale.
Named for its superior fruit flavor, Flavorfest strawberries are large, bright red, and appear distinctively plump.
In 2014, sales to growers were 20 times greater than sales in 2013. A March 2014 Lassen email to the USDA-ARS team stated, It was a combined effort; you also did a great job passing the word around, so Thank You! Total sales were ¼ of a million plants.
All other nurseries carrying Flavorfest had such demand that they restricted sales by limiting the number of plants sold to individual customers. They sold out well before the 2014 spring planting season (approximately 100,000 plants combined), and have reported that they will be ramping up production for 2015. The plant numbers from all nurseries reporting sales equate to around 350 growers producing plants on 21 acres.