Date of this Version
Published in International Journal of Fruit Science 18:2 (2018), pp 138–152.
The four experiments described here are part of a 5-year program focused on determining whether day-neutral and short-day strawberries would be suitable for commercial offseason/ winter (temperate climate) production in greenhouses. All research was performed using container-grown plants fertigated through a capillary mat production system with heat supplied under the benches. The first experiment focused on stolon development. The second experiment investigated the influence of stolon removal on berry production and included the removal of flowers for the first three weeks. The third and fourth experiments were conducted as a comparison of university research (experiment 3) versus a commercial operation (experiment 4). In experiment one, of 13 cultivars, ‘AC Wendy’ plants produced significantly more stolons than the other cultivars. In experiment two, stolon production peaked at weeks 12 and 13, with ‘Chandler’ plants producing significantly more stolons (starting at week 9) than the other cultivars. At week 13, ‘Seascape’ plants produced more total berry weight than the other cultivars. The influence of stolon removal on total berry weight varied, with ‘Evie-2+’ plants (large crowns) producing higher total berry weight with the stolons on as compared to ‘Evie-2’ plants, which produced higher total berry weight with the stolons removed. In experiment 2, fruit production was low and was probably a result of deflowering for three weeks. Consequently, it may not be advisable to deflower during the ‘off-season’ for greenhouse-grown strawberries. In the final two experiments, which involved a commercial cooperator as well as the university greenhouse, it was found that of the five cultivars trialed, the same cultivars at both sites produced the maximum total berry weight. Stolon production differed at the two locations, but the optimal time for stolon removal was similar. Thus, it is recommended that for winter greenhouse production, stolons be removed initially at week 8 and then at weeks 11–12 of the production cycle.