Supporting successful transition to the fresh market: Research and extension needs of pacific northwest strawberry growers

Zongyu Li, R. Karina Gallardo, Wendy Hoashi-Erhardt, Vicki A. McCracken, Chengyan Yue, Lisa Wasko Devetter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Pacific Northwest North America (PNW) strawberry (Fragaria Xananassa) growers are transitioning away from the processing to fresh-market sector in response to changes in local and regional markets. However, many of the regional cultivars bred for the PNW were not developed for the fresh market. There is a need to gain a better understanding of growers’ priority traits and their relative importance to enable breeders, researchers, and extension specialists to better serve this growing industry. The objective of this study was to provide such information on strawberry genetic traits of importance for the changing strawberry industry in the PNW with an emphasis on fresh-market production. Six surveys were administered to 32 growers representing 53%, 23%, and 15% of the total strawberry acreage in Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia, Canada, respectively. Growers ranked the relative importance of five plant and fruit traits, including fruit quality, disease resistance/tolerance, insect pest resistance/tolerance, plant stress tolerance, and other plant factors. Information about target markets, marketing channels, and general grower characteristics were also obtained. Whereas overall responses differed among the surveyed locations, fruit quality was considered the most important trait across all locations, with disease resistance/tolerance as the second most important. Specific fruit quality traits of importance were external appearance free of defects, skin color, size, sweetness, firmness, and flavor, whereas phytonutrients, seed color, and low drip loss after freezing and thawing were less important. Plant stress tolerance was identified as less important for strawberry growers in all locations. Results also showed many growers have already or are in the process of transitioning to the fresh market. Information obtained from this survey can be leveraged to target important breeding traits for fresh-market strawberry breeders within the PNW. Results also suggest priority areas of synergistic research and outreach activities to help growers achieve high fruit quality while managing diseases for fresh-market producers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)649-658
Number of pages10
JournalHortTechnology
Volume29
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
5Department of Horticulture, Washington State University Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center, 16650 State Route 536, Mount Vernon, WA 98273 Funding for this project was provided by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Specialty Crop Research Initiative project ‘‘RosBREED: Combining Disease Resistance with Horticultural Quality’’ (2014-51181-22378) and by the Washington State Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant program. Additional assistance with survey distribution was provided by Chris Benedict at Washington State University and Tom Peerbolt and Julie Pond at Peerbolt Crop Management.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, American Society for Horticultural Science. All rights reserved.

Keywords

  • Econometric modeling
  • Fragaria Xananassa
  • Grower survey
  • Trait clusters
  • Trait prioritization

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