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  • Author or Editor: Lindsay A. Smith x
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The effect of plastic high tunnels on the performance of two strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa) cultivars (Festival and Rubygem) and two breeding lines was studied in southeastern Queensland, Australia, over 2 years. Production in this area is affected by rain, with direct damage to the fruit and the development of fruit disease before harvest. The main objective of the study was to determine whether plants growing under tunnels had less rain damage, a lower incidence of disease, and higher yields than plants growing outdoors. Plants growing under the tunnels or outdoors had at best only small differences in leaf, crown, root, and flower and immature fruit dry weight. These responses were associated with relatively similar temperatures and relative humidities in the two growing environments. Marketable yields were 38% higher under the tunnels compared with yields outdoors in year 1, and 24% higher in year 2, mainly due to less rain damage. There were only small differences in the incidences of grey mold (Botrytis cinerea) and small and misshaped fruit in the plants growing under the tunnels and outdoors. There were also only small differences in postharvest quality, total soluble solids, and titratable acidity between the two environments. These results highlight the potential of plastic high tunnels for strawberry plants growing in subtropical areas that receive significant rainfall during the production season.

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