Propagating day-neutral strawberry plugs for fall planting
Note to readers, attached is the complete annual report for FNE08-647
The goal of this research is to determine if we can establish an on farm economically feasible method of producing day neutral strawberry plug plants for fall planting. During the 2008 growing season, we produced fruit from 3,000 annual planted day neutral strawberry plants. The fruit was marketed at the local farmers market. A high tunnel was also constructed on the farm in the spring of 2008.
On May 22, 2008 we planted 525 tissue culture strawberry plants in 10’ long plastic gutters. Each 10’ gutter was planted with 24 plants and two gutters were placed back to back. The gutters were placed on a wooden rack about 6’ off the ground. The plants were hand watered throughout the summer. Flower blossoms were removed weekly to force the plants to produce more runners. The runners were harvested on September 8th. The runners were placed in growing trays and prepared for planting into the field by the first part of October.
We harvested a total of 2,566 runners from 525 plants. This is an average of 4.9 runners per plant. Of the varieties planted, the variety that produced the most runners was GDT V1 at 11.1 runners per plant and the variety that produced the least amount of runners was GDT V14 at 2.5 runners per plant. The only variety in the research that is commercially available was Evie 2. Evie 2 produced 3.75 runners per plant.
The number of runner produced per plant was much lower than expected. Several factors may have contributed to the lower runner production. Getting materials and supplies together for the first season was a challenge. The tissue culture plants were ready before the planting station was constructed. The tissue culture plants were held at a local commercial greenhouse until we were ready to plant. During this period of time, the plants were accidently exposed to very cold temperatures (23oF). Normally temperatures below freezing would have killed these tender tissue culture plants, however a majority of the plants survived. While a majority did survive, the plants had to be held for a couple of extra weeks. The later planting date and the fact that the plants were injured would probably explain why the plants did not produce as many runners as would have been expected. Another unexpected situation was that the plants required a larger amount of water than expected. During the mid summer, the plants with many runners would dry out between daily watering times, which was not ideal for plant or runner growth. Of the over 2,500 runners collected from the plants, only about 500 survived propagation. This lower number was due to a later than expected harvest of runners and extremely hot dry weather during propagation. The runners did not establish well enough in the plug trays to be planted in the fall of the year.
In the upcoming year, we plan to repeat this project. We will have 725 tissue culture plants to put into the growing system. They will again be planted in the gutters, however they will be watered with an automated system. The tissue culture plants should be ready to transplant into the gutter by the end of April. We will harvest the runners in early August and propagate them in 32 cell trays to be ready to plant in the field by mid September. The runners will be propagated in a mist chamber to ensure a higher level of survivability. In the spring of 2010, the plants will be evaluated for survivability in the field. Due to the problems encountered in 2008, we did not sell any of the propagated plants for fall planting.
The project in 2008 reinforced the idea that the tissue culture plants must be planted in the gutters early in the spring to produce a large volume of runners. We also learned that the plants require frequent watering and much attention needs to be paid to the plants during the propagation period. We hope to be able to solve these problems for 2009 and produce a large number of plants for fall planting.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
1916 Maryland Highway
Mt. Lake Park, MD 21550
Office Phone: 3013346960