Fruiting Responses and Economics of Containerized and Bare-root Strawberry Transplants Established with Different Irrigation Methods

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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.

Strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa) crops were transplanted in two seasons in central Florida with bare-root and containerized (plug) plants under three transplant establishment-period irrigation methods to evaluate crop fruiting responses and production economics associated with the various establishment systems. Irrigation was not required to establish plug transplants in the field. Early (first 2 months) fruit yield with nonirrigated plug plants was greater than early yield with sprinkler-irrigated bare-root plants (the current commercial system) in one of two seasons and equal in a second season. Total-season yields were similar in each season between the two establishment systems. Large or medium plug plants led to greatest early fruit yields in one season while large plug plants resulted in greatest early yield in a second season. Total yield was greatest with medium plants in one season and large plants in another season. The extra cost for the plug plant system was $1853/acre. In one out of two seasons there was increased net income amounting to $1142/acre due to greater early yield associated with the plug plant cultural system. Strawberry plug transplants showed promise for earlier and more profitable crops in addition to substantial savings in water used for plant establishment in the field. The ability to establish strawberry crops without irrigation will be important in areas where growers are required to reduce farm water consumption.

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