Strawberry cultivation is continuously evolving within Italy and Europe. The high cost of harvest and particularly the difficulty of recruiting skilled labor in some areas don’t always allow planning of adequate acreage to satisfy the market, which suffers often from prices falling when product is abundant or consumption falls. In recent years field management techniques have improved notably. In southern areas, fresh bare-root plants are generally used, and in some areas rooted plantlets are used in order to have early fruit ripening. The harvest period has lengthened, from 2-3 months with refrigerated plants to 5-6 months with fresh plants. Numerous breeding programs have selected new varieties with high potential yield, large fruit, consistent and favourable quality characteristics such as flavour, aroma, nutritional value,
firmness and pleasing aesthetics.
Because the use of methyl bromide for soil fumigation is banned, varieties with tolerance or resistance to root pathogens are sought, especially for use in fields where strawberry is repeatedly planted.
New breeding programs in Italy run by both public and private entities have made available to growers many varieties specifically suited for local conditions. The link between variety and area of cultivation will become stronger, which can be advantageous for the informed consumer.