While we can enjoy strawberries that are shipped to grocery stores from afar throughout the colder months of the year, it’s a special treat to be able to eat strawberries that are grown right here in Ontario. But what varieties of strawberries can you get and when?
In Ontario, June-bearing strawberries produce a single crop of strawberries in June or early-to-mid July. They are often categorized according to when they are ready to be harvested, on the spectrum of early, mid-season and late-season.
Strawberry lovers will be happy to discover that with the development of “day-neutral” varieties, strawberries can also be picked later in summer and even in the fall. Day-neutral strawberry plants require fewer hours of daylight in order to bear their fruit and, unlike the June-bearing ones, continue to produce their fruits until the weather gets too cold.
This type of strawberry produces fruit continuously during the summer and fall. It was cultivated from everbearing strawberry plants, which produce just two to three main crops each season.
Did you know there are almost 30 varieties of strawberries grown in Ontario? Here we’ll describe some of the strawberries you’ll encounter during Ontario’s strawberry season, which will help you identify your favourites.
EARLY TO EARLY MID-SEASON
Early to mid-season strawberries represent the largest number of June-bearing varietals and are generally the most commonly grown and popular. These strawberries may also be the largest when it comes to fruit size. So, if you’re looking for strawberries in Ontario, you’ll likely find these at your local market once the season starts.
Annapolis strawberries have a lighter red colour. These are very large in size.
Brunswick strawberries are ready for picking in early mid-season. They produce large, shiny berries that are round all over and have a good flavour.
While the two varieties described above were first cultivated in Nova Scotia, Honeoyes (pronounced HUN-ee-oys) come to us originally from New York. These large, glossy berries are easy to pick. Bright orange-red to red in colour, they have a consistent size.
This variety is winter-hardy and productive, producing large bright red berries that are medium-firm with good flavour. Sable is a cross between varieties Veestar and Cavendish.
These early-season strawberries have an excellent fresh flavour and medium-red colour. Firm in texture, they tend to be wedge-shaped, but some are more cone-like.
MID-SEASON TO LATE MID-SEASON
These strawberries are harvested a little later in the season compared to the early season varieties. However, they are still classified as June-bearing strawberries.
Allstar strawberries have that perfect “strawberry” shape, sporting raised seeds and an orange-red colour. These large berries have a milder flavour that is still sweet. They are perfect for freezing and can be a great addition to salads, when sliced up.
A mid-season strawberry that was also originally cultivated in Nova Scotia, Cavendish strawberries have an excellent flavour. Excellent for freezing, the Cavendish is a large berry that has a firm texture.
Cabot plants feature rich firm red berries with excellent flavor. Cabot is perfect for the home garden but also a choice pick for commercial plantings and “pick your own” berry patches, especially in northern climates.
These wide, wedge-shaped strawberries are easy to pick and hull. The Jewel variety, bright and glossy red, is great for baking, making jam, or freezing.
With a longer stem, Mira strawberries are medium to large in size. They are lighter in colour than some of the other varieties. These have a fresh, sometimes tart flavour, so they could be a great option for making salsa or jam.
If your looking for strawberries in Ontario in July, these tasty berry varieties have you covered. Late-season strawberries are still June-bearing, but are just harvested late in the season.
These very large berries were created for Eastern Central Canadian climates, including Quebec. They vary from light to medium red and roundish to cone shape, with a good flavour. L’Authentique Orleans strawberries may have higher antioxidant levels than standard strawberries.
This is a late season (or very late season) varietal of very good hardiness and productivity that originated in Germany. This variety has very good size and firm berries with deep red color and good flavor.
Don’t be put off by the technical-sounding name; the R14, produced originally in Guelph, is a strawberry plant that produces exceptionally large, bright strawberries very late in the season. This plant doesn’t produce as many berries as its sister plant Serenity, but the quality is even better.
Serenity strawberry plants produce large, cone-shape fruit. Related to the R14, these light and bright berries have a delicate skin and equally light flavour.
Another very large strawberry, St. Pierre berries are of excellent quality. The shiny, light-red fruit have a very nice flavour and a good shelf life.
This is another plant that produces very late in the season. Valley Sunset strawberries are very large and vivid red, with a mildly sweet taste. Because of their size and firmness, they’re a great variety to eat fresh on their own or in a fruit salad.
Unlike the June-bearing varieties mentioned above, day-neutral strawberries can produce a good crop early, usually the first year that they’re planted. These varieties of strawberries tend to thrive the most when the temperature is between 2°C and 29°C. For this reason, they can still produce fruit all the way into October if it’s been a mild year.
However, day-neutral strawberries are smaller than the June-bearing strawberries. In fact, these berries rarely are bigger than an inch in size.
Albion strawberries are surprisingly sweet, but small, cone-shaped berries. They can grow well into October and have a good shelf-life.
This type of strawberry was actually created in the United Kingdom, but they’re now among the varieties of strawberries found in Ontario. The Evie 2 strawberry is light red in colour and very sweet in taste. They’re ideal for preserves or desserts.
The Seascape, originally from California, was the first day-neutral strawberry to be developed. It is bright red both inside and out. This relatively large cone-shaped variety is not overly sweet, but still very flavourful.
VISIT ROBINTIDE FARMS FOR FARM-FRESH STRAWBERRIES IN VAUGHAN
From mid-June to early-August, you can find farm fresh strawberries at Robintide Farms in Vaughan. Our family-owned farm provides an abundance of choice for your fresh-picked-from-the-farm food needs, including several varieties of strawberries, raspberries, and vegetables.
Once we’re open for the season, you can come see us at 2720 King-Vaughan Road. Call us at (647) 988-2720 for any questions about our 2020 season and hours.