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In 2001 when Governor Mike Foster signed legislation declaring the "Louisiana strawberry" the one and only official state fruit on May 21, 2001. Ponchatoula, located in Tangipahoa Parish, is considered the strawberry capital of Louisiana. The annual festival attracts 300,000 festival goers to the small town of 5,000.
The strawberry was adopted as the official state fruit of Louisiana twice.
Act No. 432 of 1980 declared that:
"There shall be an official state fruit. The official state fruit shall be the peach in 1980, the watermelon in 1981, the fig in 1982, the strawberry in 1983, the peach in 1984, the orange in 1985, the tomato in 1986, and the cantaloupe in 1987."
The strawberry served one term, one year, as official state fruit in 1983.
Louisiana was technically without an official state fruit beginning in 1988.
This was all remedied in 2001 when Governor Mike Foster signed legislation declaring the "Louisiana strawberry" the one and only official state fruit on May 21, 2001
Louisiana strawberries are produced on 400-500 acres primarily in Tangipahoa and Livingston parishes in the southeastern part of the state. Louisiana is consistently in the top 10 strawberry producing states. In 2003, the value of strawberries produced in the state approached $8.7 million. There are several small plantings scattered in the state for the local markets. Production costs run approximately $8,500 per acre. All the strawberries produced in Louisiana are for the fresh market. Several of the larger growers deliver to the wholesale markets, while the smaller growers sell to retail outlets.
Today, the cultivated strawberry ranks high on the list of preferred foods of people around the world. Although the genus Fragaria is comprised
of numerous species with origins as diverse as Alaska, Hawaii, Chile, central Europe and the Himalayas, the cultivated strawberry is largely the result
of hybridization of two species native to the Americas. Of these two species, Fragaria chiloensis is found along the Pacific coast from Alaska,
along the beaches of Chile to the Andean highlands. The second species, Fragaria virginiana is native to meadows throughout central and eastern
North America from Ontario to Louisiana.
The history of modern strawberry breeding dates back to the 1714 when Amedee Francois Frezier, a French army officer returned from a foreign mission with plants of the large fruited F. chiloensis he had seen fruiting in Chile. Later in France, these plants were crossed with F. virginiana, which had been introduced into Europe at an earlier date. Genetic improvement during the next two hundred years was relatively slow and was done primarily by private breeders. Over the next eighty years, strawberry breeders have sought to increase yield and fruit size as well as incorporating resistance to diseases and insect pests.
The law designating the Louisiana strawberry as the official Louisiana state fruit is found in the Louisiana Revised Statutes, Title 49, Section 49:166.
TITLE 49 State administration
Section RS 49:166 State fruit
§166. State fruit
There shall be an official state fruit. The official state fruit shall be the Louisiana strawberry. Its use on official documents of the state and with the insignia of the state is hereby authorized.
Added by Acts 1980, No. 432, §1; Acts 2001, No. 10, §1.
Taxonomic Hierarchy: Strawberry
Kingdom: Plantae - Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta - Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta - Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida - Dicotyledons
Family: Rosaceae - Rose family
Genus: Fragaria L. - strawberry