Temperature Conditioning and Container Size Affect Early Season Fruit Yield of Strawberry Plug Plants in a Winter, Annual Hill Production System

in HortScience

The demand for plug transplants by the Florida winter strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa Duch.) industry may increase as water conservation during plant establishment becomes more important and the loss of methyl bromide fumigant makes the production of bare-root transplants more problematic. A study was conducted during the 1995-96 and 1996-97 seasons to determine the effect of container size and temperature conditioning on the plant growth and early season fruit yield of `Sweet Charlie' strawberry plants. Plants in containers of three sizes (75, 150, and 300 cm3) were grown in one of two temperature-controlled greenhouses (35 °C day/25 °C night or 25 °C day/15 °C night) for the 2 weeks just prior to transplanting into a fruiting field at Dover, Fla. Plants exposed to the 25/15 °C treatment had significantly higher average root dry weights at planting in 1995 and 1996 than did plants exposed to the 35/25 °C treatment. Plants exposed to the 25/15 °C treatment also had higher average fruit yields than the plants exposed to the 35/25 °C treatment (48% and 18% higher in 1995-96 and 1996-97, respectively). The effect of container size on plant growth and yield was variable. Plants propagated in the 150- and 300-cm3 containers tended to be larger (at planting) than the plants propagated in the 75-cm3 containers, but the larger container sizes did not result in consistently higher yields.

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