Determination of optimum planting dates for strawberry production in southern West Virginia

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2017: $13,725.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2019
Grant Recipient: Sunset Berry Farm & Produce LLC
Region: Northeast
State: West Virginia
Project Leader:
Kent Gilkerson
Sunset Berry Farm & Produce


  • Fruits: berries (strawberries)


  • Crop Production: optimum planting dates for strawberries in West Virginia

    Proposal summary:

    With small farms having limited space, time, labor and resources, strawberry production presents a
    unique challenge. The fragile strawberry is susceptible to severe weather conditions, pests and
    constant threat from deer intrusion. The consumer demand for local strawberries is outstanding and
    never satisfied, making this an attractive agricultural product with unlimited possibilities worthy of
    Sunset Berry Farm and Produce plans to aid in the determination of optimum planting dates using
    different cultural practices that will allow producers to push back planting season from summer to
    fall, after summer crops have been harvested. Fall planting will decrease field time, resulting in less
    weed growth, exposure to pests and deer. By eliminating or drastically reducing current threats that
    interfere with successful production, strawberries can become a significant agricultural product with
    excellent return for West Virginia farmers.
    Outreach at Sunset Berry Farm and Produce includes serving as a mentor farm for trainees in the
    "Sprouting Farms" program, working closely with FFA programs to provide farm experience for
    students, serves as a consultant for school garden programs in Greenbrier County and Grow
    Appalachia, and speaks at farm training events such as the West Virginia Small Farms Conference.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Proposed study:
    * Three successive plantings will be made on September 15, October 1, and October 15th.
    Plantings will be made in both high tunnel and field settings.
    * Floating row covers will be used, black plastic in an attempt to achieve required 600 hours at 50
    degree temperatures. A control group will also be estabilished in both settings using no row covers
    or black plastic mulch.

    Expected results:
    *less weed pressure
    *reduce or even eliminate deer damage due to plants being covered and shorter growing time
    *planting dates for strawberries may be delayed 14 too 30 days to allow an additional crop to be
    produced in this area as well as making more time available to harvest other high value crops

    *strawberry planting does not need to occur until after peak summer season and all summer crops
    have been harvested

    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.