WIMAUMA, Fla. (AP) — Researchers have developed a sweeter, earlier-blossoming strawberry variety that has Florida farmers excited about future growing seasons.

The St. Petersburg Times reports that the University of Florida’s Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Wimauma has released the “Winterstar” strawberry.

Florida farmers want plants that can withstand adverse weather, prosper during short winter days and produces steady yields.

The plant is being grown this year by a trial of 20 farmers.

University of Florida researchers say millions of Winterstar plants will leave nurseries for commercial farming next year.

Florida’s strawberry industry is worth $800 million to $900 million annually to the state.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

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