Containerized Strawberry Transplants Reduce Establishment-period Water Use and Enhance Early Growth and Flowering Compared with Bare-root Plants

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  • 1 Horticultural Sciences Department and Center Director, North Florida Research and Education Center, University of Florida.
  • | 2 Horticultural Sciences Department, University of Florida.
  • | 3 Horticultural Sciences Department, Gulf Coast Research and Education Center, University of Florida.
  • | 4 Soil and Water Science Department, Gulf Coast Research and Education Center, University of Florida.
  • | 5 Horticultural Sciences Department, University of Florida.
  • | 6 Department of Plant Pathology, Gulf Coast Research and Education Center, University of Florida. Currently California Strawberry Commission.
  • | 7 Horticultural Sciences Department, Gulf Coast Research and Education Center, University of Florida.

Experiments were conducted in two seasons in Dover, Fla. (central Florida), with bare-root and containerized (plug) strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa) transplants to evaluate transplant establishment-period water use, plant growth, and flowering responses in the 3-week transplant establishment period. Strawberry plug plants were established with 290 gal/acre water applied only with the transplant at planting time, while 200,000 gal/acre from microjet or 1 million gal/acre of water from sprinkler irrigation were used to establish bare-root transplants. Root, shoot, and crown dry matter of plug plants rapidly increased during the establishment period, while there was a decline in leaf area and root and crown mass of bare-root plants, even with sprinkler or microjet irrigation. Water applied with the bare-root transplant only at planting was not enough to keep the plant alive during the establishment period. Large plug plants, but not irrigated bare-root plants, began flowering at 3 weeks after planting. Plug plants were used to successfully establish strawberry crops with low water inputs.

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