Strawberry Plasticulture in North Carolina: II. Preplant, Planting, and Postplant Considerations for Growing `Chandler' Strawberry on Black Plastic Mulch

in HortTechnology

North Carolina is experiencing a revitalization of the strawberry industry due to the adoption of plasticulture technologies and the California cultivar Chandler, which produces excellent yields and fruit quality on black plastic mulch. With this system, berries can be harvested in just 7 to 8 months after planting. The spring harvest season can last up to 6 weeks in most years. Strawberry plasticulture growers in North Carolina typically experience yields of 17,000 to 18,000 lb/acre (19,054 to 20,174 kg·ha-1). Cash expenses for the system are about $4345/acre ($10,736/ha). The system requires both an overhead sprinkler system for blossom and bud frost/freeze protection, and drip irrigation for supplying water and fertilizer in the prebloom, bloom, and fruiting periods. Sandy loam and clay loam soils are ideal for forming the lo-inch-high (25.4-cm) beds with bedding machines. Usually, 33% of the N, 50% of the K, and all of the P is applied preplant, with the remaining N and K applied through the drip-irrigation system. Problems associated with the plasticulture system include higher initial investment relative to matted-row production, and only one fruiting season is possible with the anthracnose-susceptible `Chandler' in the southeastern United States.

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