An international strawberry meeting saw strong grower participation.

Strawberry conference highlights fruit breeding, tasteUp to 126 strawberry industry people from 19 countries attended the Jan. 14-17 International Strawberry Conference in Tampa, Fla.

Designed for growers, the event highlighted the newest developments in strawberry variety breeding at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Wimauma, Fla., and also covered the latest strawberry agronomic research.

Participants toured Plant City, Fla.-area strawberry growing and cooling operations, including Astin Strawberry Exchange LLC and Carl Grooms’ Fancy Farms, which markets berries through Wish Farms in Plant City.

Gary Wishnatzki, Wish Farms’ president and chief executive officer, discussed marketing challenges in the U.S.

“Flavor is one of the major things breeders have to look for,” he said in a session. “If it doesn’t have flavor, the breeder shouldn’t release it. Consumers may buy with their eyes, but they come back again and gain for the flavor. If we want to drive demand, we have to produce berries that taste good.”