Tissue-culture derived mother plants were established in a greenhouse suspended-gutter, nutrient-film technique growing system to evaluate runner tip productivity in the system. Effects of cultivar (`Allstar', `Chandler', `Latestar', `Northeaster', and USDA selection B 27) and duration (0, 1, or 2 months) of cold storage at 1 °C on tip viability, rooting success, and performance in fruit production were determined. The average number and weight of runner tips produced in the gutter production system, the capacity of runner tips to form cohesively rooted plug plants, and the number and length of adventitious roots produced by runner tips varied significantly among the cultivars and the three storage durations (0, 1, or 2 months). In the field, plants produced from runner tips stored for 2 months produced more runners than plants produced from freshly harvested runner tips. Crown number differed among the cultivars, but was not affected by cold storage treatment. No treatment differences were noted for the fruit harvest parameters evaluated. The results suggest that the transplants derived from mother plants grown in a greenhouse-based soilless system can be useful for annual plasticulture strawberry production in colder climates. Although long periods of cold storage of runner tips resulted in lower tip-to-transplant conversion ratios, field performance of transplants was not adversely affected. Additional research is needed to improve greenhouse strawberry production practices for increasing runner output and storage conditions that maintain the integrity of cold-stored runner tips. Without these improvements it is unlikely that soilless runner tip production will become a widely accepted technique that would replace the field nursery tip production method currently used by commercial strawberry propagators.
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