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Friday, May 23, 2008

Strawberry - Sonata

Bred by PRI in Holland, the same breeder of Elsanta, Sonata is a cross between the two strawberry cultivars, Elsanta and Polka. The result of the cross is a uniform, large, conically shaped fruit. While the cultivar is one to two days later than Elsanta, the main advantage is that it produces a much lower incidence of misshapen fruit during the first and second pickings. This is seen particularly in spring and autumn cropping. The cultivar is particularly suitable for field scale production similar to Elsanta.
It appears from the trials we have seen that Sonata has a much higher percentage class one fruit which is backed up by the Dutch growers who have had the variety in large scale trials for 4 years now. Less wastage means quicker picking but because the fruit size is generally bigger, the kilos per picker per hour are increased by, in some cases, 25% in comparison to Elsanta. Admittedly this was from a tray plant and was in new glass but with Elsanta as a guideline it certainly looks favourable.
Overall, Sonata is a little sweeter than Elsanta. Flavour is better at the start of picking when yields are high and tends to flatten out towards the end of picking. Elsanta has a much stronger flavour at the end of picking as the yield reduces.

The fruit is also a nice red colour with no tendency to darken after picking. This is a major advantage as many of the new strawberry cultivars released over the years had a tendency to turn too dark a colour after picking. (Florence / Symphony)
The firmness of strawberries is also a very important trait which was taken into account when breeding Sonata. Firmness is very important for a successful shelf life. Results indicate that the berry is almost as firm as Elsanta, although much larger in size.

A number of Dutch and UK outdoor trials have also been carried out with Sonata. The cultivar was able to stand up to very hot spells of weather and also to heavy downpours, where there was no fruit splitting. Again, there were far fewer misshapen and larger berries, making the crop easier and quicker to pick.

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