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Monika Walter, Cath Snelling, Kirsty S.H. Boyd-Wilson, Geoff I. Langford and Graeme Williams

System requirements for organic strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa) runner production under cover were determined during the 2001-02 and 2002-03 seasons. In the field, yield and fruit quality were assessed for organically produced runners (plug and bare-rooted transplant) in comparison with barerooted conventionally produced runners under organic, BioGro certified production conditions. The preferred organic production system was the enhanced suspended system, where mother plants grew on benches in the tunnel house and the first two runners were potted into growth substrate. This system produced approximately 50 plug transplants/mother plant or 200 plug transplants/m2. The least preferred system was the nursery bed, where mother plants were allowed to produce runners that yielded approximately 100 bare-rooted runners or 100 transplants/m2. Tunnel house production of runners (plug transplants and bare-rooted) allowed earlier planting (March vs. May) compared to field-produced bare-rooted runner plants. The earlier planting date increased yield by approximately 181 g/plant. Under organic production conditions, organically produced runners (plug and bare-rooted transplants) performed at least as well as bare-rooted conventionally produced runners. Our results show that indoor production of organic strawberry runners is possible. We also showed that organically produced runners (bare-rooted and plug transplants) perform similarly in the field compared to bare-rooted conventionally produced runners. Generally, there were no differences in yield or fruit quality among runner sources.