Qld Strawberry Growers have announced that strawberry lovers will have a new Queensland-bred favourite to sink their teeth into this season called the ‘Red Rhapsody’ which will be officially launched at the annual Strawberry Festival happening at Sandstone Point Hotel on 19 August.
Jennifer Rowling Strawberry Industry Development officer for Qld Strawberry growers said the new strawberry has been developed by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries to be deep red, easier to grow, more resistant to disease and easier and cheaper to harvest.
“The Red Rhapsody is actually already available in stores now – the Strawberry Festival will just be the official launch. What customers may notice when they see it in store is its deep rose red colour which might lead them to believe that the berries are overripe, but it’s actually a very tasty variety and an indication they’ve reached their full flavour, all of which we will be explaining and showcasing at the festival,” she says.
The new variety is the result of breeding research at DAF’s Maroochy Research Facility in Nambour. The project has been funded by Hort Innovation, using the research and development Strawberry Industry levy and funds from the Australian Government, and co-funded by the Queensland Government.
The Red Rhapsody variety has been developed and delivered as part of a national variety improvement program that is backed by strawberry growers, including Queensland Strawberry growers.
“The Red Rhapsody is attractive to growers because it has been specifically developed to enable quicker and less expensive harvesting,” says Rowling.
“A producer could have hundreds of thousands of plants, and each plant could have up to 50 fruit – every one of those fruit has to be picked individually by hand,” she says.
“The Red Rhapsody has longer stems that enable the fruit to grow away from the bush, making them easier to locate; a high resistance to bruising, meaning they can get to the consumer in good condition despite the rough and tumble of harvesting, packing and transport to shops; and larger berries.
The demand for the new variety of strawberry plants has so far exceeded supply, and Red Rhapsody strawberries are available now at most retail outlets that sell fruit, however punnets aren’t labelled with the variety name, so Rowling says to simply keep an eye out for darker berries.
“We will also have have a competition at the event to see if strawberry lovers can spot the difference between this new variety and ones which have been on the market for some time and of course there will be prizes!” says Rowling.
Rowling says the Strawberry Festival which is run by the Sandstone Point Hotel, is the perfect place to launch the new variety as it celebrates all things strawberry with farm fresh strawberry stalls, strawberry milkshakes, chocolate coated strawberries and the return of The Strawberry Patch Bar that will specialise in an all strawberries drinks menu on offer. Children’s TV phenomenon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will also perform show during the day along with other live entertainment, a strawberry eating competition, kids rides and fireworks.
For more information on Red Rhapsody strawberries, contact DAF on 13 25 23 or visit the website, www.daf.qld.gov.au or http://www.qldstrawberries.com.au/. Follow Qld Strawberries on Facebook and Twitter on @QLDstrawberries.