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  • Author or Editor: J.J. Luby x
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As part of our hardy strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa) breeding program, winter hardiness of 15 strawberry cultivars was evaluated in the field after Winter 2005–2006 and a test Winter 2006–2007 with no snow cover at Grand Rapids, MN. After the snow-covered Winter 2005–2006, plant stand (percent leaf coverage for the designated area for each plot) increased for all cultivars in the mulched treatment and some cultivars in the unmulched treatment with slight decreases only for several cultivars in the unmulched treatment. However, after Winter 2006–2007, the plant stands of all cultivars drastically decreased in both mulched and unmulched treatments. ‘Clancy’, ‘Evangeline’, and ‘L'Amour’ were the three most sensitive cultivars among the 15 cultivars tested. ‘Kent’, ‘Mesabi™’, ‘Cavendish’, and ‘Brunswick’ were the highest yielding cultivars for both 2006 and 2007 in the mulched treatment. In the unmulched treatment, ‘Brunswick’, ‘Mesabi™ ’, ‘Cavendish’, ‘Sable’, and ‘Kent’ were the top yielding cultivars after Winter 2006–2007. During Winter 2005–2006, with 20 to 30 cm snow cover throughout the season, the 5- and 10-cm soil temperatures remained constant at ≈30 to 31.5 °F in both mulched and unmulched treatments. In contrast, during Winter 2006–2007, there were 16 and 24 days (consecutive) in February below 18 °F at 5-cm soil depths for mulched and unmulched treatments, respectively, which probably led to the severe winter damage. Although straw mulch afforded the plants some protection, snow cover is critical to the survival of strawberries in northern Minnesota and other areas with similar weather conditions.

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This study assessed the potential impacts on grower profits when the crop load management is not optimal. We used a hedonic pricing model to estimate the relationship between ‘Honeycrisp’ apple (Malus ×domestica) quantities and prices by size category. This information was used to assess potential changes in grower returns as the grower shifts production toward certain size fruit. A grower would realize a loss of $5332/acre if production of size 48 to 88 count per 40-lb box decreased by 5% and size 100 to 163 count/box increased by 5% compared with current ‘Honeycrisp’ size distribution. In addition, we used experimental auctions to estimate consumers’ willingness-to-pay (WTP) for ‘Honeycrisp’ quality characteristics. Apple consumers, in this study, were willing to pay an average of $0.12/lb more for a one-unit increase in soluble solids concentration. A $0.12/lb discount for a decrease in soluble solids content (SSC) would represent a $1362/acre loss. Optimal sizes and SSC estimated in this study are linked with crop loads no larger than seven fruit/cm2 trunk cross-sectional area under Washington state growing conditions. Given the increasing popularity of ‘Honeycrisp’, growers and allied industries should be aware of the importance of preserving the quality of this cultivar to maintain price premiums and thus profit margins.

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