How science and history created the Oregon strawberry

On a warm June afternoon last year, Oregon State University’s North Willamette Research and Extension Center was bustling. The 160-acre agriculture research station outside Aurora, Oregon, grows everything from Christmas trees to kiwi fruit and has upwards of 75 different field trials happening at any one time.

Scientists, researchers, and farmers were gathered for Strawberry Field Day, getting updates on the latest research on strawberry production in the Pacific Northwest. NWREC began in 1957, but OSU’s research on strawberries goes back even further.

Since 1917, OSU has worked with the USDA Agricultural Research Service in a one-of-a-kind cooperative berry breeding program to develop varieties specifically made for the Pacific Northwest. The iconic Hood strawberry came from the collaboration in 1965, and the beloved Tillamook variety was released in 2004. Mary’s Peak, Sweet Sunrise, Totum, and many more were all results of the partnership.

Strawberries have a long history in Oregon, both as part of our agricultural landscape and also as part of our state’s story. From traveling on the Oregon Trail to new varieties developed to combat disease to a century-old celebration with enough strawberry shortcake to feed a city… Oregon is serious about its strawberries.


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