- Fruits: berries (strawberries)
- Animal Production: feed/forage
- Crop Production: fertigation, organic fertilizers
- Education and Training: demonstration, extension, on-farm/ranch research
- Farm Business Management: whole farm planning
- Pest Management: biological control
- Production Systems: general crop production
- Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities
Strawberry producers in the eastern United States primarily use spring bearing cultivars, which produce a crop for a relatively short period of time. Harvest is finished by the end of June; however, with large urban populations nearby, the demand for fresh strawberries is strong throughout the summer. Until recently the small size and poor quality of day neutral strawberry cultivars have prohibited day neutral strawberry production from filling a portion of this market. Many growers are looking for ways to produce fruit during the summer months to meet the demand by the consumers. This project will introduce farmers to new varieties of day neutral strawberries, which have the potential to produce heavy yields of fruit with very desirable flavors. Potential producers will be invited to yearly field days, have the opportunity to attend a strawberry short course, and participate in monthly field walks during the growing season. As a result of this project, growers will have information on the best nitrogen fertilization levels, plant propagation methods, growing techniques and variety selection. During the first year of the project organic nitrogen (compost) and nitrogen levels will be evaluated to determine which level will produce the highest marketable yields and healthiest plants. In the second year of the project, growers will evaluate the best method of propagating day neutral strawberry plants. In the final year of the project, growers will evaluate new varieties in variety trial plots. Potential producers will be invited to attend annual field days held during each of the three years of the project. Of the 200 potential producers that will attend a field day, 100 will attend a strawberry short course or field walk to further their knowledge of growing day neutral strawberries and 20 will plant day neutral strawberries utilizing new varieties and production techniques. Surveys will be conducted to determine that milestones have been reached.
Performance targets from proposal:
The primary outcome of this project will be to establish a day neutral strawberry production system in the cool climate areas of the northeast. Information gained through this project will be presented through field days, yearly strawberry short courses, and field walks held during the growing season. 200 farmers will attend field days on growing day neutral strawberries. Farmers who have interest in producing fruit will be invited to attend a yearly strawberry short course or field walks. 100 farmers will attend a second educational event such as a strawberry short course or field walk. Of the farmers that attend the field walks or strawberry short courses, 20 will add day neutral strawberries growing new varieties utilizing advanced growing techniques to their farming operation. All participants of the short courses and field days will be surveyed to determine who has added day neutral strawberries to their farming enterprises.