You Could Be Eating Fresh Local Strawberries At Christmas If This Researcher Has Her Way
by Elizabeth Pennisi, Washington Post
Posted: 2017-12-22 09:07:45 EST

Kimberly Lewers’s dream strawberry tastes like “a crystalline sugar cube,” with a hint of creaminess, a touch of tartness and a sudden burst of juiciness. And she wants to make it available in the Mid- Atlantic not just in June but in November, even December.

Offseason strawberries are not known for such great flavor — they come from too far away and are bred for sturdiness — but she’s betting her career that locally grown fall and winter fruit will one day rival the most sumptuous June berries.

Arriving shortly after dawn on a nippy November morning, this U.S. Department of Agriculture plant breeder at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center is about to demonstrate how close — or far — her dream is to coming true. At first, there’s no sign of any plants. They are hidden under clear plastic tarps pulled tight over thigh-high, yard-wide hoops. Lewers slams her gloved fist against the top of one of these tunnels, sending ice flying. Collaborators John Enns and Phil Edmonds knock ice off another row with sticks.

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