Effects of Non-Chemical Pest Control on the Profitability of Day-Neutral Strawberry Production in the Midwest

Project Overview

FNC19-1188
Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2019: $8,998.00
Projected End Date: 02/28/2021
Grant Recipient: Twin Cities Berry Company
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Andrew Petran
Twin Cities Berry Company

Commodities

  • Fruits: berries (strawberries)

Practices

  • Crop Production: pollinator health, season extension types and construction, Pest Control
  • Education and Training: on-farm/ranch research
  • Pest Management: physical control
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture

    Summary:

    Demand for local, organic fruits is increasing throughout the United States. For strawberries in the Midwest it is difficult to meet this demand with a concurrent supply; this is due to the short harvest window of June-bearing fruit grown in the region. Organic production of day-neutral strawberries with vastly extended harvest windows is growing in the Midwest, and has potential to meet this increased demand for local and organic fruit available almost year-round. However the practice is still in its infancy. Little is known on how to properly and sustainably produce day-neutral strawberries over an extended season exposed to a longer buildup of pest, disease and weather pressures unique to this region. We propose a comparison of the yield, quality and harvest windows of two strawberry management practices: a raised bed, plasticulture system managed with a traditional organic spray regimen in the open field, versus a similar raised-bed system equipped with exclusion netting to provide a physical barrier for pests and allow reduced chemical inputs. A thorough yield and quality comparison will allow us to determine if a protected culture system can produce profits and harvest seasons high enough to justify the increased initial costs.

    Project objectives:

    1. Compare the yieldqualityharvest window and profitability of an exclusion vs organic spray system for day-neutral strawberry production.
    2. Evaluate and discuss the ecological and economic impact of each system by recording the spray regimen of the pesticide treatment and comparing its cost vs the installation of exclusion netting.
    3. Continue TCBC's mission of open-source farming by sharing project findings via conference presentations, website blog updates and social media interaction.
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.