The majority of strawberries grown in the Midwest are short-day varieties, also known as June-bearing strawberries. These plants start to initiate their flowers during late Fall, in response to shortening day lengths. After overwintering, they finish flowering and fruiting in an early summer flush. Midwesterners have come to expect locally available strawberries during just a few early weeks of the growing season, but with rising interest in local and organic fruit, finding ways to extend the midwestern strawberry season would be ideal.
For the past 8 years, the University of Minnesota has been conducting research on what are called day neutral strawberries, a strawberry variety that flowers and fruits continuously throughout the growing season, as opposed to their June bearing cousins. These varieties are primarily grown in heavy strawberry producing states like California and Florida, but research labs at UMN are researching an organic production system for day neutral strawberries so they can be grown in the cold climates of the Midwest. The guiding vision of this research is expanding and diversifying local markets for organic strawberries. Sounds pretty sweet, eh?
If you're feeling more than neutral for day neutrals, check out our other posts about UMN strawberry research to learn more about this new and innovative crop for the Midwest. We think its a berry promising prospect.