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Most consumers give little thought to all the work that goes behind growing, packing and shipping their favorite produce, but if they could talk to a strawberry in this era of modern technology, they might be surprised to hear its detailed story.
Watsonville, Calif.-based Well Pict Berries, for one, claims to have developed “some of the most highly sought after patented growing methods” and combined them with modern technology to ensure every berry meets its most stringent standards.
Well Pict’s methods require a multi-million dollar investment and can take up to 10 years to complete, according to the company. The development of its proprietary strawberry variety begins with choosing the perfect “parent” plants. Tens of thousands of unique seedlings are evaluated each year, searching for only the “best of the best.”
“We look for the finest in flavor and size, the top in color and gloss, and the best in performing against pest and disease. Only those deemed to be at the highest levels in all categories become the chosen few to be moved forward as the next superior variety,” notes the company in its sales sheet.
It’s important to note that Well Pict cross-pollinates seeds to achieve its end results, rather than using genetically modified seeds, which have become somewhat controversial among American consumers.
Following the screening process, individual seedlings are propagated using plant tissue culture in Well Pict’s laboratory. Patented new varieties are “fingerprinted” for future identification as intellectual property. Once clearly identified and patented, plants are moved from the laboratory to higher elevation nurseries for further propagation. Over a four-year period, what began as a single seedling becomes many millions of genetically identical disease-free plants.
Come harvesting time, Well Pict’s advanced technology and modern techniques, combined with careful hand-picking and packaging by highly trained crop professionals, ensures only the very finest berries make it into each Well Pict box.
The end result is Well Pict’s proprietary berries, which the company claims have a higher juice content. With the higher juice content come a darker color and more tendencies for bruising. However, Well Pict is working on educating its retail partners that “the bruise will stay a bruise” because of its berries’ greater skin integrity.
“The berries may touch shoulder to shoulder in the clamshell, but they’ll go all the way through distribution to the consumer without becoming leaky,” says Dan Crowley, sales manager for Well Pict.