Government-bred strawberry, raspberries launched

Two new “high-yielding” raspberry varieties and a large, early-ripening strawberry variety have been launched from the Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre at Agassiz, B.C.

The new berries “will translate into increased profits for farmers because they are high-yield, early-ripening, naturally resistant to disease, harvestable by machine and suitable for the fresh and processed food markets,” the federal government said in a release Thursday.

Abbotsford MP Ed Fast announced the new varieties during the Pacific Agriculture Show’s agri-food industry gala in Abbotsford.

New berry varieties are put through eight to 15 years of “rigorous” testing and selection before they’re offered to the industry. Tests are run for yield, size, colour, taste, cooking and processing quality, as well as natural resistance to diseases and pests, the government said.

To develop new raspberry varieties, PARC-Agassiz staff collaborate with the University of the Fraser Valley and the B.C. Raspberry Industry Development Council. For new strawberries, PARC-Agassiz works with the University of the Fraser Valley, the Fraser Valley Strawberry Growers Association and the Washington Strawberry Commission.

The new fruits include:

  • Nisga’a, described as a high-yielding, early-ripening strawberry variety producing large medium-dark red, firm and glossy fruit with a pleasant and sweet flavour;
  • Ukee, which the breeders described as a high-yielding raspberry variety producing firm large-sized fruit suited for both the fresh and processing markets, also carrying “excellent” resistance to root rot and resistance to the large raspberry aphid, Amphorophora agathonica, a pest which transmits the raspberry mosaic virus complex; and
  • Rudyberry, described as a high-yielding raspberry variety producing firm large-sized fruit suited for both the fresh and processing markets, as well as “highly machine-harvestable” with an earlier harvest season than Meeker, the industry standard variety.

New varieties developed through PARC-Agassiz’s small fruit breeding program are traditionally named using local First Nation words, but Rudyberry was named after Rudy Janzen, an Abbotsford farmer who was the first to plant it on his farm and played an important role in testing it, the government said.

“Growers need new varieties to help us get ahead of problems like root rot,” Janzen said in the government’s release. “I became involved in testing because I think it’s very important for growers to have a chance to say which varieties will work for them.”

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