Growing Day-neutral Strawberries Using the Sunbelt/Polyacrylamide Gel System
“Weed control and irrigation are expensive in both time and money. If they can be eliminated, it will be of great worth to us and other producers in the North Central region. If the proposed system works, it will be more sustainable, as well as cost effective, for us and other producers in the region.”
Objectives: To reduce soil erosion, soil salinity problems resulting from irrigation, the need for chemical pesticides and production costs of strawberries by experimenting with day-neutral strawberries grown with the Sunbelt/Polyacrylamide gel system (a woven synthetic mulch). Funds will be used to help in purchasing day-neutral strawberries, Sunbelt, Polyacrylamide gel, fertilizers, a simple irrigation system, other costs of production and to relay information gained in the study to other growers in the region.
Results: The project coordinator tested two day-neutral strawberry cultivars in six replicated strips with five different treatments: drip irrigation, no irrigation, control and Polyacrylamide gel at levels ranging from 10 to 50 pounds per 1000 square feet. Berries were harvested from late-June through mid-October. The Sunbelt mulch provided excellent weed and erosion control all season. Highest yields were obtained with drip irrigation plots (no gel) and plots receiving 25 pounds gel per 1000 square feet.