It’s been over 15 years in the making, but the team that launched the Rutgers Scarlet strawberry in 2015, has just released their second strawberry cultivar, Rutgers D’Light. Derived from plant biology professor emeritus Gojko Jelenkovic’s 30 years of testing hundreds of varieties to develop a better tasting strawberry, the Rutgers D’Light is coming to market after many years of field trials conducted by agriculture and natural resource agents Pete Nitzsche and Bill Hlubik on New Jersey research and commercial farms, and in collaboration with other universities.
This new strawberry variety developed at Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES) is now available to gardeners and farmers. Rutgers D’Light strawberry was selected for its flavorful, sweet fruit and has a unique holiday lightbulb shape.
Noting the favorable responses during the field trials, Nitzsche commented, “Our farm workers and volunteers always wanted to take the Rutgers D’Light strawberry fruit home instead of the other varieties we were comparing it to.”
“Rutgers D’Light has a unique balance of sugars, acids and aromatic compounds that will awaken the senses of true strawberry lovers,” added Hlubik. “Its characteristic large Christmas light shape is similar to some of the European strawberry varieties and makes it an ideal strawberry for dipping in chocolate. After many years of testing varieties, I believe our Rutgers D’light and Rutgers Scarlet are the two best tasting strawberries on the market.”
Rutgers D’Light produces abundant runners in the field, making it ideal for gardeners wanting to expand their strawberry garden. “The plant’s characteristic upright architecture allows for adequate air flow and ample sunlight penetration producing delicious deep red berries,” noted Hlubik.
Rutgers D’Light is a plant patented variety licensed to Indiana Berry & Plant Co. Gardeners and farmers interested in Rutgers D’Light plants can order them now: Bare Root Strawberry Plants | Blueberry Plants for Sale | Indiana Berry – Plymouth, IN.
Will Rutgers D’light be showing up at a farm near you? Chances are good: “Local growers who got to trial Rutgers D’Light on their farms have been eager to get a hold of more plants,” said Hlubik. While this first year of release offers availability of strawberry plants for home gardeners and commercial growers alike, berry lovers will have to wait until next year to experience the “D’lights” of the fruit, i.e., this year’s plants will bear fruit next year.
For residents looking to purchase fruit from local farms, they can find Jersey strawberries in season mid-May through mid-June. Asking your local grower about Rutgers D’light plantings this year will ensure obtaining them next year. Find farm markets and pick-your-own strawberries at Discover New Jersey’s Freshest: Map – Find Jersey Fresh.
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