Strawberry fans, rejoice. The newest Cornell University strawberry variety concentrates intense flavor in a berry big enough to fill the palm of your hand.
Topping out at over 50 grams, Archer, the latest creation from Cornell University berry breeder Courtney Weber, is comparable in size to a plum or small peach. But this behemoth stands out in ways beyond just its proportions: the flavor and aroma exceed what you'd expect from a strawberry of such unusual size.
"Archer is an extraordinarily high-flavored berry," said Weber, associate professor in the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science. "It has an intense aroma, so when you bite into it you get a strong strawberry smell, and it's very sweet, so you get a strong strawberry flavor that really makes an impact."
Weber says the combination of large fruit and strong flavor hits t3he sweet spot for local growers who sell in farmers' markets, u-pick sites and roadside stands. Archer ripens in June and holds its large size through multiple harvests for two to three weeks.
"Strawberries are the ultimate summertime fruit that signal the start of the summer season. People love that vivid flavor, and Archer delivers a complex, sunny aroma and taste that just screams summer," said Weber. "Consumers have a real preference for large berries, and with fruits that can be as big as the palm of your hand, Archer really draws people's attention and fills baskets quickly. It's larger on average than any of the dozens of strawberry varieties we've tested over the years."
And this big berry is no wimp: The cold-hardy variety is tough enough to withstand winters, making it suitable for growing in diverse climates throughout New York as well as in places like Michigan and Minnesota and along the Mid-Atlantic from Maryland into the Northeast.
Weber's strawberries are bred to be hardy. He breeds in a perennial system without soil fumigation so that only the most robust varieties thrive. With a durable root system, this high-yield variety is tolerant to root rots and other common diseases.
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