Harvest workers can pick both varieties faster than Festival and Radiance, thanks to plants and leaves that grow more upright and expose rather than hide fruit. That’s particularly helpful when growers face labor shortages.
“We’re trying to get away from varieties that tend to bog down workers in the field,” he says.
Winterstar’s inconsistent fruit size does make it a little more difficult to harvest, says Connell of Grimes Farms.
Consistent size, with minimal culls and a steady rate of maturity, is the key to picking efficiency, Whitaker says.
This season, Connell’s third working with Winterstar, will be his first in commercial quantities. He’s had two years’ experience with Sensation.
“We’re very excited about [Sensation],” he says. “It’s a plus on just about everything we look for.”
Both Connell and Young foresee declines in Festival and Radiance acreage as these two new varieties get more exposure.
But Sensation’s tendency to produce better quality may catapult it ahead of even Winterstar, Young says.