New strawberry varieties pop out of school lab
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet—Do you want to suckle on “Lennon” or “Forever” at the strawberry fields of Barangay Betag here?
Lennon and Forever, both associated with the Beatles song, “Strawberry Fields Forever,” are among the names being floated for a promising variety of strawberries developed under Benguet State University’s (BSU) strawberry research and development project.
BSU agriculture professor Danilo Padua, the project leader, said he will submit the yet unnamed variety and the BSU-Pierre variety to the National Seed Industry Council because of their high-yielding capacity and sweetness potential.
After establishing the project in 1999, BSU had developed seven strawberry varieties through cross-fertilization. BSU-Pierre, named after a visiting foreign scientist, is a cross between Sweet Charlie and the Japanese variety, Toyonaka. The unnamed variety, tentatively called T3, is a cross between the Fern and Festival varieties.
The first variety the project had developed was called “Agsapa,” a cross between Selva and Toyonaka. It was named “Agsapa” for the Ilocano word, dawn, because it represented the dawning of locally developed strawberries.
Padua’s locally developed varieties are slightly resistant to strawberry mites and fruit rot. More importantly, pesticides are rarely used on these, he said.
The project is also testing other varieties for yield and taste. These are Fern x, Toyonoka x, Agsapa x BSU-Pierre, Rosalinda x Toyonoka, and Sweet Charlie, which is a common strawberry in Florida and noted for its sweetness. At least three varieties are cultivated for their ability to grow leaves used for strawberry tea.
These varieties are also crossed with Korean and Belgian varieties, as well as the Nyoho variety.
Padua said they have been crossing these varieties and others in search of a perfect-tasting variety suited to the Cordillera climate.
The varieties are grown in greenhouses to control their breeding. They are also tested monthly for sweetness and distributed to control farms here and in other areas for their adaptation and ability to withstand diseases and temperature changes.
Fruit samples are also distributed to BSU students and residents here to gauge customer acceptance.
Parallel to the development of the new varieties, the project is also developing integrated pest management using another predatory mite, the Amblyseius longispinosus, to fight the two-spotted spider mites plaguing the local strawberry industry for decades.
The project has been going on for three years and is expected to reduce the application of pesticides on strawberry plants.
Padua said the project is set to offset the importation of strawberries. Although the fruit is produced in this town, in the upland areas of Nueva Vizcaya, Davao, Bicol and Cebu, fresh and frozen strawberries are largely imported from China, the United States, Belgium and Australia. Strawberry preserves come from the US, China, Germany, France and Hong Kong. Frank Cimatu, Inquirer Northern Luzon
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