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  • Author or Editor: Craig K. Chandler x
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A greenhouse hydroponic system, which uses suspended plastic troughs, was found to be an efficient system for the production of high quality strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa) plantlets. In this system micropropagated mother plants of `Oso Grande' and `Sweet Charlie' produced an average of 84 and 80 daughters per mother plant, respectively, in 1996, at a plant density of 3 mother plants/ft2 (32 mother plants/m2). Nearly 100% of the plantlets harvested from the system were successfully rooted in plug trays, and showed no symptoms of leaf or crown diseases.

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Hydrocooling was evaluated as an alternative to forced-air cooling for strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa) fruit. `Sweet Charlie' strawberries were cooled by forced-air and hydrocooling to 4 °C and held in different storage regimes in three different trials. Quality attributes, including surface color, firmness, weight loss, soluble solids, and ascorbic acid content, pH and total titratable acidity, were evaluated at the full ripe stage. Fruit hydrocooled to 4 °C and stored at different temperatures for 8 or 15 days showed overall better quality than forced-air cooled fruit, with significant differences in epidermal color, weight loss, and incidence and severity of decay. Fruit stored wrapped in polyvinylchloride (PVC) film after forced-air cooling or hydrocooling retained better color, lost less weight, and retained greater firmness than fruit stored uncovered, but usually had increased decay. There is potential for using hydrocooling as a cooling method for strawberries.

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Transplant quality can have a major effect on the productivity of many crops. Bare-root, green-top transplants for Florida winter strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa) production are produced mainly in highlatitude (>42° N) nurseries. Mechanical digging machines are used to remove plants from the soil at these nurseries before transport to production fields in Florida. In the course of this operation, crowns, petioles, and leaves may be crushed and broken. Machine and hand-dug bare-root transplants of `Camarosa' and `Sweet Charlie' were obtained from a Nova Scotia, Canada nursery, planted at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center, Dover, Fla. field facility on 2 Nov. 1999 and 10 Oct. 2000, and grown using standard annual-hill production practices. Plots were harvested twice weekly beginning 5 Jan. 2000 and 15 Dec. 2000. Hand-dug transplants produced significantly higher monetary returns both seasons. Therefore, fruit producers may consider paying the higher cost associated with changes in harvesting and packing operations needed to reduce damage to transplants.

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The use of locally grown transplants in Florida strawberry (Fragari×ananassa Duchesne) production has increased since the release of the cultivar Sweet Charlie by the University of Florida in 1992. Previous research has shown that nursery region can influence production patterns of other strawberry cultivars through differences in photoperiod and temperature exposure. Transplants of `Sweet Charlie' strawberry (bareroot and plug plants) from sources representing northern (Canada, Massachusetts, Oregon), southern (Alabama, Florida) and mid latitude (North Carolina) transplant production regions were compared for plant vigor, production, and pest incidence at Dover, Fla. in 1995-96 and 1996-97. Total fruit production was not significantly different forplants among the plant source regions in 1995-96, but total yield from southern source plants in 1996-97 was significantly lower than northern and mid latitude plant sources. Monthly production of marketable fruits varied among the three plant source regions in December, January, and February, during which time market prices fell 46% in 1995-96 and 56% in 1996-97. Plants from northern and mid latitude sources produced significantly greater fruit yield in December than plants from southern sources. Differences among plant sources were detected for early flowering, initial crown size, incidence of foliar disease, arthropod pests, mortality, and fruit weight. Geographic location of strawberry transplant sources influenced fruiting patterns and other components that may affect profitability of `Sweet Charlie' strawberry production in west central Florida.

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