Strawberries are the most valuable annual food crop, per-acre, grown in the US. From 2012 to 2018, the nationwide average ranged from $38,544 to $60,577 per acre. Because strawberries can adapt to highly varied environments, from open fields to enclosed buildings, they can be grown in any state, though most US production is in California and Florida. Associated with a myriad of health benefits, strawberries consistently rank among the top five most purchased fresh-market fruits in the US.
Strawberry breeding goals include season extension, longer shelf life, great flavor, and reduced pesticide need. The USDA has been breeding strawberries from 1910, starting at Beltsville, MD. Both a breeding effort and the USDA’s strawberry germplasm collection reside at Corvallis, OR. State-funded strawberry breeding programs exist in areas of significant production such as California, Florida, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, and Washington. Driscoll’s runs the world’s leading private strawberry breeding program.
Ripened berries of the USDA cultivar ‘Cordial’, harvested at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center in Beltsville, Maryland.