Progress in breeding decaploid fragaria × vescana hybrids

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Summary

The decaploid F2 hybrids of Fragaria × vescana represent interspecific crosses of F. × ananassa (8 ×) with F. vesca (4×). Breeding work started in 1949 and was improved step by step. Two F. × vescana cultivars have been released for cultivation, SPADEKA in 1977 and FLORIKA in 1989. Their cultivation is of increasing interest. The advantages they offer, in ecological and economic terms, are based on their hybrid character. Phenotypically they demonstrate heterosis. This is characterized by a strong production of runners during the first year, resulting in a dense stand of runnerplants which can be used as a ‘meadow-culture’. Physiologically, they combine the short-day sensitivity of F. × ananassa with the day-neutral reaction of F. vesca. Compared with F. × ananassa, the vegetative growthof the F. × vescana hybrids - expressed in the strong runner production - ceases only with low temperatures. Thus, there is only a very short period for sidecrown formation, compared with F. × ananassa, and the senescence is strongly retarded. Contrary to the short-living F. × ananassa cvs the F. × vescana ‘meadow-culture’ can be cropped for many years with a minimum of care. Spraying against botrytis is not required. The current breeding programme concentrates on the use of selected 6x-parents which form unreduced gametes at a high frequency. Special aims are adaptation to mechanical harvesting, everbearing, and red stele root rot resistance. Selections under test for commercial use offer improvement in fruit quality by combining the fine flavour of the F. vesca parent with the firmness of the F. × ananassa parent.