July/August 2022 - 22

PROFILES
BERRIES
indoors, more effort can be focused on
flavor. Of the more than 100,000 unique
strawberry varieties Driscoll's produces
a year in California, Florida, Mexico and
Europe, only one or two may become
commercially successful due to disease
or productivity performance.
Breeding can also focus on berries that
deal well with climate change. Second
only to winegrapes, strawberries are
sensitive to changes in microclimates. A
small shift in a microclimate can suddenly
move one winegrape or strawberry
variety from being incredible to being
just average.
It doesn't take much - a fog shifting
several miles from Monterey Bay to the
Salinas Valley can change the quality
of what can be marketed as a Driscoll's
strawberry, Bjorn said.
New frontier
The appearance, texture and size of
a strawberry grown vertically indoors
isn't expected to significantly vary from
With environmental
factors including rain,
heat and pests easier
to control indoors,
more effort can be
focused on flavor.
its counterpart grown in a field, he said.
Driscoll's wants to grow varieties that
are naturally sweeter and offer more
consistent delivery.
" Indoors, a variety can consistently
deliver what you communicate about its
sweetness, " he said. " It takes away those ups
and downs that naturally happen outside. "
In its infancy, technology for growing
berries indoors is expensive and often
custom-made, Bjorn said. The work
Driscoll's has done with Plenty and its
indoor farming technology has been
successful and produced high-quality
berries, he said. In October 2020, Plenty
announced a round of investments from
companies that included Driscoll's, kicking
off a partnership to grow strawberries
year-round indoors.
" We had to learn a little from our friends
in Silicon Valley, " Bjorn said. " You're
on a technology curve that's not on a
straight line. It's growing exponentially
over time. "
In outdoor growing, a step change could
be growing raspberries in plastic tunnels.
Compare that to continuous exponential
improvements seen via technologies
coming out of tech centers around the
world, Bjorn said.
" We have had a lot to learn to get into
that world, " he said. " It's healthy because
it's made us think differently about the
rest of our business.
Organics aren't being considered
initially because Driscoll's plans to market
indoor berries differently and promote
elements of sustainability more so than
organic growing methods.
22 JULY/AUGUST 2 0 2 2
http://freshproduce.com/harmonized

July/August 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of July/August 2022

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