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Gulf Coast Research and Education Center

Gulf Coast Research and Education Center

Dr. Vance Whitaker

Professor of Horticulture

Dr. Whitaker develops strawberry varieties for Florida. His breeding program is enhanced through genetic research and through collaborations with the GCREC faculty team and Florida industry. Dr. Whitaker works closely with Florida Foundation Seed Producers, the Florida Strawberry Growers Association and Ekland Marketing Company to license and market UF/IFAS varieties in Florida and around the world.

  • Research

    Dr. Whitaker conducts an applied research program in breeding and genetics, using both field and lab techniques.

    This research program is primarily aimed at the genetic characterization of important traits in strawberries and informing methods and strategies for developing newer and better cultivars.

    Few traits in cultivated strawberry are controlled by single genes, due to the complex genetics of this species.

    Therefore, the approaches of quantitative genetics are important for determining the types of genetic variance that contribute to economically important traits and how selecting one trait influences another trait. However, for some traits that are controlled by one or few genes, breeding is being enhanced through DNA marker technology.

    It is important to note that DNA-informed breeding in this sense is distinct from the use of transgenic technologies. All UF/IFAS cultivars are bred through traditional means and are not transgenic.

  • Extension

    The University of Florida strawberry breeding program originated with the work of Albert Brooks in 1948. Since then, 15 strawberry cultivars have been released.

    In 2017, more than 10,500 acres of strawberries were planted in Florida—approximately 85% of which were planted in UF/IFAS varieties.

    The strawberry industry benefits when new cultivars are managed to their full potential. Information is available on attributes of new cultivars and their tailored management programs.

  • Lab Team
    Lab Phone Number 813-419-6615
    Staff Member
    Angel Arredondo, Ag Assistant II
    Ryan Batts, Ag Assistant II
    Odalis Gonzalez, OPS Field Tech
    Cheryl Dalid, Bio Scientist II
    Fahiem Elborai, Research Scientist
    Zhen Fan, PostDoc
    Su, Justin, OPS Field Tech
    Guadalupe Garcia, OPS Field Tech
    Catalina Moyer, Bio Scientist II
    Luis Osorio, Bio Scientist IV
    Manuela Rodriguez, Ag Assistant I
    Natalia Salinas, Grad Student
    Joanna Trejo, OPS Field Tech
    Sujeet Verma, Bio Scientist II

  • Strawberry Cultivars


Rm. 169 
Gulf Coast Research and Education Center
14625 County Road 672
Wimauma, FL 33598

  • Education


    • Ph.D. Plant Breeding and Molecular Genetics, University of Minnesota, 2009
    • M.S. Plant Breeding, University of Minnesota, 2006
    • B.S. Horticultural Science, North Carolina State University, 2003
    • B.S. Agricultural Business Management, North Carolina State University, 2003
  • Publications