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  • Author or Editor: Stan Hokanson* x
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Strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa Duch.) cultivars used by commercial producers in North America often change rapidly due to several factors including modified cultural practices, processing and marketing practices, the desire for new cultivars with larger and higher quality berries, resistant insect and disease pests, loss of traditional chemical control methods, and private sector breeding programs. Within the past decade, the annual plastic-mulched production system has quickly expanded into eastern North America prompting the need for cold-hardy cultivars adapted to that system. The continuing loss of traditional chemical controls for strawberry insects and diseases, including the impending loss of methyl bromide, has prompted the need for increased insect and disease resistance. In addition, consumer demands for a healthier food product with lower chemical residues has heightened this need. Small fruit experts from across North America provided information on the primary strawberry cultivars used in the recent past, the present, and potential cultivars for the future, as well as on current strawberry acreage in their respective states and provinces.

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Anticipating the phaseout of methyl bromide, the USDA-ARS small fruit breeding program at Beltsville, Md., discontinued soil fumigation in strawberry breeding and selection trials in the mid 1990s. To address resulting weed and pathogen pests, a modified or advanced matted row system was developed. This system uses matted row-type culture, established on raised beds with subsurface drip irrigation and organic mulch. The mulch is the residue of a killed cover crop that fixes some nitrogen and provides an economical, biodegradable mulch for suppressing weeds and reducing erosion. Since 1996, the small fruit breeding program has conducted replicated performance trials on both advanced matted row and a regional adaptation of annual hill plasticulture. Both of these systems were managed without methyl bromide fumigation or fungicide application. Data from these trials were used to compare advanced matted row and plasticulture for yield, fruit quality and harvest season. Yield for the two systems was genotype dependent, and the advanced matted row system had later production and slightly lower fruit quality.

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Research at botanic gardens, from medieval times to the present day, has evolved to encompass a wide range of topics. The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, part of the University of Minnesota, is an example of a diverse, successful research program within a public university garden setting. Collaboration, mission, organization, and publications are keys to a successful research program. Future research for public gardens, including putting collections to work for conservation, understanding global change, ecological genomics, restoration ecology, seed banking, and citizen science are collaborative ideas for all botanic gardens to consider. Research can strengthen the botanic garden's role by providing public value while improving ties to the university.

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Larvae of several insects injure and kill strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa Duchesne) plants by burrowing into and hollowing out plant crowns. Occasionally, these infestations are serious enough to cause heavy economic losses to fruit producers and nursery plant growers. In 1997 in Beltsville, Md., we observed wilting and dying mature plants and unrooted runner plants in two experimental strawberry plantings. Injury by larvae was extensive; large cavities occurred in crowns, and the central pith tissues were removed from stolons and leaf petioles. Often, insect frass was seen at entrance holes. Larvae removed from hollowed-out parts of injured plants were identified as the European corn borer (Ostrinia nubilalis Hübner) in their fifth instar stage. Their presence in this instance also was associated with a cover crop of millet [Setaria italica (L.) P. Beauv., `German Strain R'] planted between the strawberry rows for weed suppression. This is the first published report of the European corn borer attacking strawberry. Although this insect may occur only sporadically in strawberry plantings, it may become important in the future. Growers and other professionals should become aware of this new strawberry pest and recognize that its management in strawberry will be different from management of other crown-boring insects.

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