577 Strawberry Runner Plant Root Pruning and Subsequent Growth and Yield in California

in HortScience

Each year, 500,000,000 bare-root plants (crowns) are used to establish strawberry plantings in California. Careful placement of plants in the planting holes is a critical determinant of plant growth and productivity, but large-rooted crowns are difficult to plant correctly. Use of uniform plant material would facilitate proper planting. I conducted a study in 1997–98 to determine the influence of three root pruning treatments on performance of `Camarosa' bare-root strawberry plants. Crowns were machine-dug from a nursery on 27 Oct. 1997. Two-hundred-forty plants were selected for uniformity of size, and root systems of all selected plants were >12.7 cm in length. Root systems of individual plants were randomly subjected to three pruning treatments: nonpruned (NP), pruned to 8.9 cm in length (P1), or pruned to 4.45 cm in length (P2). Twenty plants were randomly selected from each pruning treatment, washed, divided into excised and intact root tissues, and dried at 70 °C for 6 days. Pruning resulted in the removal of 23% and 78% of root dry mass for plants in the P1 and P2 treatments, respectively. For each treatment, the 60 remaining plants were established in raised beds at the Univ. of California South Coast R.E.C. in Irvine on 1 Nov. 1997. Experimental design was a RCB, with one 20-plant plot per treatment in each of three replicate blocks. There was no plant mortality and no difference among treatments in plant canopy diameter in March (mean diam. = 36.7 cm). Fruit yields were determined for each plot at weekly intervals from 1 Feb. to 18 Apr. 1998. There was no effect of pruning on yield or fruit size, suggesting that strawberry root systems have considerable regenerative ability.

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