By Nan Gellings
Strawberries aren’t just for springtime enjoyment anymore. Since the 1980s, a new variety of berries known as day-neutrals (producing fruit in both long and short daylight) have extended the strawberry season to five months. This variety is typically grown as an annual — planted and harvested the same year. Day-neutrals can be grown in less space than traditional June-bearing plants since they send out few runners. Cultivars produce fruit in temperatures ranging from 35 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit, much to the delight of the strawberry lover and producer alike.
The Tribute strawberry is a day-neutral cultivar with heavy yields. Tribute plants bear a plentiful crop of flavorful medium to large, dark red berries. The berries are as aromatic as they are flavorful. The plants grow just 6 inches tall with excellent resistance to disease. It is a dependable choice over a long productive season in hardiness zones 3 to 10.
Tristar strawberries are packed with flavor in medium to small fruits. They grow well in small spaces such as hanging baskets and in patio planters. Tristar’s fruit is firm and tolerant of leaf spot and leaf scorch and resistant to red stele and verticillium wilt.
Plants produce fruit in just three months and continue right up until frost. Tristar is an all-around adaptable strawberry hardy to zone 2, when covered in winter.
Seascape strawberries were developed by the University of California in 1991. Seascape is prized for its high yields of firm, medium to large fruit, in August and September. The berries are flavorful with an attractive glossy finish and an intense, sometimes overpowering, aroma. They are susceptible to two-spotted spider mite and powdery mildew. Ripe fruit is easily damaged by rain. Seascape plants grow 10 to 12 inches tall in hardiness zones 4 to 9.
Albion strawberry is a 2004 University of Davis California variety. With its deep red color and flavor to match, it is probably the most consumer-friendly berry that has ever been produced by the university, according to an article by the California Farm Bureau Federation. Growers can leave the berries in the field several days longer to raise the sugar level because they ship extremely well. Albion strawberry plant is known for its large to very large, sweet, firm conical fruit. It is resistant to a number of diseases and hardy from zones 3 to 9. In 2010 Albion was the most popular strawberry variety grown in California.