The University of Florida strawberry breeding program has released Florida Sensation, a new cultivar which was previously trialed as FL 09-127. 

As the trial number suggests, this cultivar was selected as a seedling during the 2009-10 season, and after additional years of scrutiny was tested by grower cooperators in west-central Florida during the 2012-13 season. 

Plants will be commercially available to Florida growers beginning in fall, 2014.

Notable characteristics of Florida Sensation based on UF trial data include:

• High early and total yield similar to Florida Radiance;

• Fruit size equal to or greater than Florida Radiance throughout the season;

• Good firmness, intermediate between Florida Radiance (medium firmness) and Winterstar (high firmness);

• Bright red color that maintains fresh appearance postharvest;

• Sweet flavor.

The flavor of this cultivar has been examined in multiple sensory panels, in which “sweetness” was rated higher than Florida Radiance on 6 of 7 dates tested and “flavor” was also rated higher on 5 of 7 dates tested. This is consistent with soluble solids content data, which showed higher soluble solids for Florida Sensation than for Florida Radiance on all 5 dates tested.  

Initial disease resistance trials in collaboration with Natalia Peres indicate that Florida Sensation has a very similar disease resistance profile compared with Florida Radiance, except that the new cultivar appears to have greater resistance to Colletotrichum crown rot.  

While this new cultivar has greater plant vigor than Florida Radiance, the genetic susceptibility of Florida Sensation to Phytophthora root and crown rots is of concern, and both nurserymen and growers are urged to take preventative action against this disease.

A limited number of trial plants of Florida Sensation will be available on or around Oct. 1 for trial this season.

The Florida Strawberry Growers Association will be managing the distribution of these plants in collaboration with Florida Foundation Seed.

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