New strawberry variety launched in WA

Posted by Isobel Drake on 4th September 2009

West Australian Agriculture and Food Minister Terry Redman today opened a new state-of-the-art strawberry packing house and launched a new variety of strawberry in Wanneroo.Mr Redman said it was a little known fact that strawberries are Western Australia’s most valuable fruit export.

“More than 80 per cent of Australia’s strawberry exports come from WA. The industry is adding about $50million to the State’s economy annually – a level projected to increase by 10 per cent during the next three years,” he said.

The Minister advised that the Ti Produce packing house was the first central packing house in WA and is capable of handling more than 12,000 trays of strawberries per day.

“The packing house will use rapid cooling, which means higher quality fruit. This contrasts with some traditional operations where individual growers pack their own fruit, often with limited cool room facilities and inadequate temperature control after it leaves the farm,” he suggested.

Ti Produce is exporting two-thirds of its output by air to Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia and Dubai.

Later this month, the company will co-operate with the Department of Agriculture and Food in sea freight trials of strawberries for Singapore. If successful, this could lead to significant savings compared with air freight.

Mr Redman also launched a new strawberry variety – Juliette – the latest variety to be released from the Australian temperate breeding program.

“It is excellent to see an industry taking control of its own destiny by developing and managing new varieties,” he said. “A side benefit of developing desirable local varieties is that it creates the possibility of future strawberry runner propagation in WA, rather than having to rely solely on interstate propagators who have exclusive Australian licences with United States breeders.”

Juliette is reportedly an early maturing variety with excellent flavour, sweetness and firmness so it can be picked at greater ripeness, with a longer shelf life.