Historically, the University of California public strawberry breeding program, founded in the 1930s, has been an important source of commercially useful strawberry varieties for the mid-South over the last four decades. Chandler, released by the University of California in early 1980’s, became the standard variety of the North Carolina strawberry industry from the mid-1980s through mid-1990s. Camarosa, a 1992 UC release, replaced Chandler to become North Carolina’s dominant variety from the mid-1990s until the present. In more recent years, Albion, a day-neutral introduced in 2006, has been gaining some popularity in North Carolina and the Southeast. Also, a short day UC variety ‘Merced’ with excellent heat tolerance and large berries is showing some promise in the region.
Beginning in the fall of 2015, Cottle Farms of Faison, NC, in cooperation with Dr. Barclay Poling, former Small Fruit Extension Specialist, NC State (1980-2010), began testing a number of newer strawberry varieties (including Ruby June, Sweet Ann, Lucia and Scarlet), and advanced selections coming out of the private breeding program of Lassen Canyon Strawberry Nursery, Redding, CA. Of this group, Ruby June has shown the best adaptation to growing conditions in Eastern NC, as well as on several commercial farms in the piedmont. Ruby June is very high in fruit quality, and its marketable yields have compared favorably with Chandler and Camarosa in four (4) seasons of testing at Cottle Farm. In 2019, the University of California strawberry breeding program released four (4) new varieties (Royal Royce, Valiant, Victor and Warrior), which were included in the 2019-2020 trial.