Date of this Version
Stacy A. Adams, Ellen T. Paparozzi, Ryan Pekarek, David P. Lambe, George Meyer, M. Elizabeth Conley & Paul E. Read (2021) University Research on Winter Growing of Container-Grown Strawberries Translates to Grower’s Farm Trial, International Journal of Fruit Science, 21:1, 1104-1113,
Strawberries are only seasonally available in Nebraska (NE). If an affordable heated structure can be designed, then opportunity exists to increase on-farm income by producing strawberries off-season during high-value market periods. A series of university greenhouse trials were conducted from 2010 to 2012. The varieties Evie-2 and Seascape were identified as being most productive under a low technology growing scheme. A new research project, which ran from fall to late spring (2013–2014), was designed to determine if this production scheme would translate to a commercial grower. Varieties Seascape and Evie-2 (each at two grades indicated by +) and San Andreas plants were grown simultaneously at the university research greenhouse and a cooperative specialty crop grower greenhouse, similar structures and production timelines. Top performers for both experiment locations were ‘Evie-2ʹ, and ‘Evie-2+’ plants, with average harvest berry weights (marketable) per plant (pp) of over 0.454 kg, and ‘Seascape’ with 0.390 kg. ‘Seascape+’ plants performed well at the cooperator location (0.399 kg pp), but not at the university location. ‘San Andreas’ plants performed well at the university location with 0.454 kg pp but not at the cooperator location. Productivity was greatest during the winter-spring season, which accounted for more than 82% of the total berry mass harvested at the cooperator site and 88% at the university site. The results support the concept that the growing system used within a controlled university research setting is representative of the crop productivity a specialty crop grower might expect, particularly when strawberries are grown in late winter and early spring. However, securing low fuel costs, eliminating delivery and having a secondary market for culls is key for profitability.