The Upper Midwest of the US accounts for an extremely small portion of national strawberry (Fragaria x ananassa) production due to the prevalence of ‘June-bearing’ cultivars, which are limited to a short six-week fruiting window from June to early July. Determination of high yielding and high quality organically managed cultural practices for newer day-neutral cultivars in the region was performed. Six day-neutral cultivars were planted at two locations (St. Paul, and Morris, MN) in 2013 and 2014 and organically managed as annual crops under straw mulch, plastic mulch, and plastic mulch with low tunnel cultural practices. Yield and average berry weight for each cultivar/cultural practice combination was collected and analyzed weekly and cumulatively at each location and year. Total phenolic content (TPC) and total soluble solid (TSS) content of fruit was measured as indicators of nutritional and sensory quality over time. Day-neutral production added an average of fourteen weeks to the June-bearing strawberry season regardless of cultural practice, while all practices yielded more fruit than the 6160 kg ha–1 average for June-bearing production in the region. Significant cultivar differences within each practice were observed as well. TPC and TSS both displayed significant cultivar and time of harvest effects. Overall our data support the conclusion that day-neutral strawberries can perform well using organic cultural practices in the Upper Midwest, providing growers the opportunity to extend the season and bolster yield, while providing consumers access to nutritious, locally available fruit for a longer period of time.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the North American Strawberry Growers Association; the Minnesota Specialty Crop Block Grant Program; and the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station. We thank the North American Strawberry Growers Association, the Minnesota Specialty Crop Block Grant Program and the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station for their funding and assistance in this project.
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- Fragaria x ananassa
- low tunnel
- total phenolic content
- total soluble solids