Strawberries appear to be the latest victims of a changing climate. Also, as smaller strawberries take longer to pick, production costs are rising along with temperatures. This means lower returns for growers and possible price hikes at the checkouts.
Strawberries (Fragaria ananassa) were first grown in Brittany and France around 1740 via a cross of Fragaria virginiana from eastern North America, which was noted for its flavour and Fragaria chiloensis from Chile which was noted for its large size. Strawberries are now widely cultivated across the world and in addition to being consumed fresh, can be frozen, made into preserves, as well as dried and used in confectionary.
Strawberries are also a popular addition to dairy products, while strawberry pigment extract can be used as a natural acid/base indicator due to the different color of the conjugate acid and conjugate base of the pigment. The strawberry plant is a stemless, low-creeping, and usually perennial herb that may live for many years although it is sometimes grown annually.
Some cultivars are evergreen and others tend to be deciduous, depending on the area in which they are grown. The trifoliate leaves form a blanket cover of the ground and range from 0.1 to 0.8m deep which shelters the fruit. The creeping runners occasionally produce roots and inflorescences at the leaf bases. The ripe fruit is 2.5–5cm long and light to dark red when ripe.
Strawberries can be grown all year round in Australia and most states have strawberry producing industries. Traditionally, production has been concentrated in the warmer months (October to May); however, growing seasons can be extended in temperate climates through the use of different varieties and planting techniques. The diversity of the Australian climate also enables June to September production in warmer or subtropical climates such as areas of Queensland and Western Australia.
Production is concentrated in coastal regions, namely the Sunshine Coast area of Queensland, the Camden region of New South Wales, the Yarra Valley region in Victoria, the Adelaide Hills in South Australia, and Wanneroo and Albany in Western Australia.