[Market-farming] strawberry flavor

road's end farm organic101 at linkny.com
Tue Feb 15 09:33:14 EST 2005

On Feb 15, 2005, at 6:37 AM, Graeme Gerrard wrote:

> Well, isn't the world complex.  Sweet Charlies grown north of here 
> have a really reputation as being great tasting fruit.  We were very 
> keen to grow them.  The runners were hard to get too.  It was one of 
> the varieties we dug out after the season because they just didn't 
> taste any good!
> I guess it is a case of horses for courses.  Someone once said that a 
> variety that did well at one farm wouldn't necessarily be the same on 
> a farm only 2 kms away.
> Graeme

Yes, you pretty much have to try everything on your own place. Other 
people's suggestions are a good place to start, but with strawberries 
or anything else, not everybody gets the same results

This might lend credence to the theory that it's partly fertilizer; as 
people using the same management get different results on different 
soils, it would make sense that different nutrient availability would 
be part of the issue; though some of it is presumably soil textures, 
and microclimate. I've also had berries of generally good-flavored 
varieties turn bitter in an odd weather year (do we have any other kind 
of year lately?) although there were clear varietal differences, I had 
about six varieties in the field that year (small field) and some of 
them didn't do it.

In the Northeast USA, if your primary issue is flavor, the first thing 
to try is Sparkle. This is not a shipping berry at all, and runs small, 
but you can get it to farmers' market; when my customers ask for a 
strawberry by name, it's usually Sparkle that they ask for. Sparkle is 
fairly late season; Earliglow is close in flavor, and quite early; 
Earliglow is also not at all a shipper, and size drops off rapidly 
after the first couple of pickings. I grow Jewel for midseason; it's 
the best flavored of the larger berries I've tried; still not as large 
as those monsters I've seen in the supermarket lately, but definitely 
worth eating for both taste and texture.

And then there's a further complication with flavor. A couple of years 
ago I trialed some Cavendish, partly because I'd been told it was 
relatively drought resistant. (At that point the drought went away for 
a while, so I can't speak to that one yet.) Nice big berries and 
prolific; but I thought it was bland; so did people working here. I 
wasn't going to plant it again -- but -- some of my customers loved it. 
Others would buy it only if I had nothing else. I might put this down 
to the possibility that the Cavendish customers had tasted nothing else 
except a supermarket berry (they were definitely better than that); 
except that I've noticed that, if I hand out taste samples of four 
different berries to four different people, half the time I get four 
different relative rankings.

-- Rivka; Finger Lakes NY, Zone 5 mostly
Fresh-market organic produce, small scale

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