In 2011, 16 strawberry cultivars were planted with two planting systems—a black-plastic-covered perennial system (BP) and a matted-row system (MR)—arranged in a split-block design with four replications at the New Mexico State University (NMSU) Sustainable Agriculture Science Center, Alcalde, NM. Cultivars varied greatly in their yield and tolerance to high-pH soil. ‘Allstar’, ‘Chandler’, and ‘Darselect’ were the three most sensitive cultivars to high soil pH among the 16 cultivars tested, whereas ‘Wendy’, ‘Brunswick’, ‘Honeoye’, and ‘Clancy’ were the four most tolerant cultivars by the end of July 2011. Two to three applications of 0.67 g·m–1 (linear row) FeEDDHA were used per year through fertigation to effectively treat leaf chlorosis resulting from high soil pH. After averaging the yields of 2012 and 2013, ‘Mesabi’ and ‘Kent’ had greater yield than others and twice the yield of ‘Jewel’. Early cultivars Earliglow and Annapolis and late cultivars L’Amour and Ovation all had low yields in both years. In Jan. 2013, the minimum temperature reached –21.7 °C, which caused crown damage to some cold-tender cultivars, especially in the black-plastic-covered system. ‘Wendy’, ‘Chandler’, ‘Clancy’, and ‘Jewel’ were the cold-tender cultivars, whereas ‘Mesabi’, ‘Kent’, ‘Cavendish’, and ‘Honeoye’ were the hardiest among those tested. Despite repeated late frosts from 19 Apr. to 4 May 2013 and a delayed harvest season, most cultivars produced greater yield than in 2012 with ‘Mesabi’ and ‘Kent’ being the greatest. There were no significant differences in yields in 2012 and 2013 between BP and MR treatments, but yield in BP was significantly lower than in MR in 2014. With appropriate cultivar selection and management, growers can produce strawberries in high-pH soil at high elevation with a short growing season in the Southwest.
Shengrui Yao, Steve Guldan, Robert Flynn and Carlos Ochoa
Shengrui Yao, Steve Guldan and Robert Heyduck
Late frost is the number one issue challenging fruit production in northern New Mexico. We had apricot (Prunus armeniaca) trees in an open field planting at Alcalde, NM, and not a single fruit was harvested from 2001 through 2014. Apricot trees in surrounding communities produce sporadic crops. In 2012, we planted apricots in two 16 × 40-ft high tunnels (9.5-ft high point). Trees were trained to a spindle system in one high tunnel and an upright fruiting offshoot (UFO) system in the other, and there were identical plantings in the open field for each high tunnel. Supplemental heating was provided starting at blooming time. There were five cultivars planted in each high tunnel at 4 × 8-ft spacing in a randomized complete block design with two replications (rows) and two trees per cultivar in each plot. In 2015, relatively high yields were obtained from all cultivars. The average yields for the spindle system were (lb/tree): ‘Puget Gold’ (29.0), ‘Harcot’ (24.1), ‘Golden Amber’ (19.6), ‘Chinese Apricot’ (18.6), and ‘Katy’ (16.7). Yields for the UFO system were (lb/tree): ‘Golden Amber’ (18.6), ‘Katy’ (14.9), ‘Puget Gold’ (11.3), ‘Chinese Apricot’ (10.2), and ‘Harcot’ (8.6). On average across all cultivars, the UFO system produced 60% of the yield of the spindle system in 2015. A heating device is necessary for high tunnel apricot fruit production in northern New Mexico because trees normally bloom in early to late March, depending on the year, while frosts can continue until mid-May. In years like 2017 and 2018 with temperatures below 10 °F in late February/early March, some of the expanded flower buds were killed before bloom. On those cold nights, one 100-lb tank of propane may or may not be enough for 1 night’s frost protection. Economically, it would not be feasible in those years. Only in years with a cool spring, late-blooming trees, and mild temperatures in April and May can high tunnel apricot production generate positive revenue with high, direct-market prices. High tunnel apricot production with heating devices is still risky and cannot guarantee a reliable crop in northern New Mexico or similar areas.