We’re at the tail end of strawberry picking season in New Jersey. However, that didn’t stop Rutgers University from unveiling a new varietal aptly named, Rutgers D’Light. Not only do researchers believe that this fruit yields a sweeter, superior flavor—its shape is also ideal for dipping. Let’s take a closer look at how Rutgers developed (and perhaps perfected) a new strawberry varietal. Oh, and this isn’t the first time.
Rutgers Reveals New Strawberry Varietal
Rutgers D’Light was created by the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES). It took the team 15 years to research, breed and field test the new strawberry before making it available to home gardeners and farmers in May 2022.
What makes this varietal different is its superior flavor, ”a unique balance of sugars, acids and aromatic compounds that will awaken the senses of true strawberry lovers,” describes NJAES agent, Bill Hlubik. “The plant’s characteristic upright architecture allows for adequate airflow and ample sunlight penetration, producing delicious deep red berries.”
Rutgers D’Light comes as a result of Professor Emeritus of Plant Biology, Gojko Jelenkovic’s, decades of research dedicated to developing a better-tasting strawberry. Jelenkovic spent 30-plus years breeding improved strawberry cultivars. His goal? To increase the crop’s yield, strengthen its resistance to diseases and enhance the fruit’s overall quality and flavor.
Today, NJAES agents Bill Hlubik and Peter Nitzsche continue to carry out Jelenkovic’s mission. Rutgers-bred strawberries are designed to become a popular plant for local farms, given that these varieties are bred to specifically withstand NJ’s climate. In addition, researchers noted that Rutgers D’Light is known for “producing abundant runners in the field.” Runners are a way to propagate the plant and increase its yield.
In addition, Rutgers D’Light has been deemed the “ideal strawberry for dipping in chocolate” due to its unique lightbulb shape. You’ll want to get your hands on these for the holidays. Although, businesses and berry lovers alike will have to wait until next year to try the D’Light, as it won’t bear fruit until May/June 2023.
NJ Always at the Forefront of Innovation
As previously mentioned, this isn’t the first time Rutgers looked to improve the local food and farming industries. In fact, did you know that NJ researchers are responsible for creating the plant-based phenomenon Impossible Burger?
Most recently, back in 2015, their breeding program unveiled a strawberry varietal known as the Rutgers Scarlet. Like the D’Light, this varietal was bred to withstand New Jersey’s variable climate and diverse soil types. In addition, the fruit can maintain its bright red color throughout. Meaning there’s no hard, white middle. Its best attribute? Its exceptional flavor. Rutgers Scarlet strawberries reportedly taste best when eaten right after they’re picked from the farm or garden—no added sugar necessary.
“After many years of testing varieties, I believe our Rutgers D’Light and Rutgers Scarlet are the two best tasting strawberries on the market,” noted Hlubik.
You can order Rutgers D’Light exclusively through Indiana Berry & Plant Co.
About the Author/s
Abby is The Digest's Managing Editor. She spends her time looking at dogs on Instagram and eating her way around Jersey City.