A new strawberry variety developed at North Carolina State University ripens early in the growing season and produces big, attractive, good-quality berries.

A modest supply of plants of the new strawberry, called Galletta, should be available this fall and winter. Galletta was developed by Jim Ballington, a plant breeder in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at North Carolina State.

In the Raleigh area, Galletta ripens in late April to early May, which is a week to 10 days before a variety called Chandler, which is the most widely grown strawberry in North Carolina. Along the coast, Ballington said Galletta may ripen as early as mid-April.

Ballington added that Galletta produces particularly attractive fruit with a glossy finish.

Galletta may be grown by homeowners, but is also suitable for commercial production. He said there appears already to be interest among commercial growers in Galletta, because the new variety produces better quality fruit than Sweet Charlie, the earliest strawberry available to North Carolina growers prior to Galletta.

“Galletta gives growers a really nice quality berry to start the season with,” Ballington said, adding that a few commercial growers purchased Galletta plants last year and should have fruit this year, while homeowners should be able to buy Galletta plants this fall.

Galletta was named for Gene Galletta, Ballington’s predecessor as small fruit breeder at North Carolina State. Gene Galletta worked at North Carolina State for 18 years before leaving in 1977 to join the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

e-mail: dave_caldwell@ncsu.edu