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Craig K. Chandler, Peter J. Stoffella, Earl E. Albregts, and Charles M. Howard

Plants of `Selva', `Pajaro', and three Univ. of Florida strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa Duch.) selections were grown near Dover, Fla., for five seasons using the annual hill cultural system. Genotype × environment interactions were significant for both marketable yield and fruit weight; therefore, stability analyses were performed. None of the genotypes had consistently high marketable yield, but one of the selections, FL M-1350, had relatively large and stable average fruit size. A genotype was desirable if it had a mean yield (or fruit weight) above the grand mean of all five genotypes, a regression coefficient 1, and a nonsignificant deviation from regression.

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David G. Himelrick

The effect of seven types of plastic mulches on total, early, and late season yield was evaluated for three years in the annual hill strawberry production system. Black plastic mulches differed only from the significantly reduced yields found on unmulched bare ground treatments. Although not significantly different in any year, the top performing mulch treatments varied with production year and cultivar. In the wet and warm harvest season of 1991, the highest yielding treatments were IRT-76, clear, and ALOR-brown. In the dry and cool 1992 season, the top performers were white on black, black, and ALOR-brown. For the cool and moderately wet 1993 season, the best performance was recorded on black, white on black, and clear. Average soil temperatures from warmest to coolest were found with black, black on white, clear, IRT-76, ALOR-brown, red, silver, white on black, and bare soil treatments.

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Earl E. Albregts and Craig K. Chandler

Four strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa, Duch.) cultivars were grown in a winter strawberry fruiting study using the annual hill cultural system and polyethylene-mulched beds during two seasons. Plants were set on 15, 30, 45, and 60 cm in row-plant spacing with two rows per bed spaced at 45 cm. Increasing plant density in the fruiting field generally increased early fruit yield and sometimes total fruit yield during two seasons. Yields of cull fruit were also increased with increased plant density. Daughter plant production decreased with increased plant density. Growers should consider planting costs, fruit rot, and harvesting problems when selecting the plant density for fruit production.

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David Del Pozo-Insfran, Christopher E. Duncan, Kristine C. Yu, Stephen T. Talcott, and Craig K. Chandler

The effects of cultivar, harvest date, and production year on the soluble solids and antioxidant phytochemical levels of 22 strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa Duch.) genotypes grown in a winter annual hill (raised bed) production system were investigated. Fruit harvested in Jan. 2003 and 2004 were characterized by low polyphenolic content, but high concentrations of soluble solids and ascorbic acid; whereas fruit harvested in Feb. 2003 and 2004 generally had elevated polyphenolic concentrations, but lower levels of soluble solids and ascorbic acid. Annual variation in soluble solids and phytochemical composition was also observed among nine strawberry genotypes, which was likely attributable to variations in solar radiation and air temperature. `Earlibrite' was among the highest for soluble solids concentration on three of the four harvest dates, while `Carmine' was noted for its high phytochemical concentrations across harvest dates and years. The breeder selection `FL 99-117' emerged as a promising selection in terms of producing fruit with high concentrations of soluble solids and antioxidant phytochemicals.

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David G. Himelrick and W.A. Dozier Jr.

A number of strawberry cultivars and breeding line selections have been tested in the annual plasticulture system. The only two cultivars currently recommended based on cultural and economic performance ate 'Chandler' and 'Oso Grande'. Plant type (fresh dug, plug, etc.) and nursery source have also been evaluated. Fresh dug plants with leaves intact generally perform better than those with leaves removed. Rooted runner tips in cell packs (plug plants) look very promising and outperform fresh dug plants in most situations. Plastic mulch treatments included clear (CLR), black (BLK), laminated white on black (W/B), laminated black on white (B/W), IRT-76 (IRT), AL-OR brown (ALOR), and a bare ground (BG) check. In the first season the highest yields for 'Chandler' were obtained on IRT, followed by CLR, ALOR, B/W, BLK, W/B, and BG. The highest yields for 'Selva' were on CLR followed by BLK, ALOR, IRT, B/W, W/B, and BG. In the second season the highest yields for 'Chandler' were on W/B followed by BLK. ALOR, IRT, B/W, CLR, and BG. In the case of 'Selva' ALOR was the top performing treatment followed by IRT, W/B, BLK, B/W, BG, and CLR.

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David G. Himelrick, Floyd M. Woods, and W.A. Dozier Jr.

The use of soil solarization on 20-cm raised beds 30, 60, and 90 days prior to fall planting of `Chandler' strawberries was compared with soil fumigation with 269 kg·ha–1 98/2 methylbromide/choropicrin and with 562 liters·ha–1 metam-sodium (Busan). The clear plastic mulch was painted with white latex paint prior to planting on 15 Oct. Methylbromide/choropicrin treatment gave the best yields, followed by the metam-sodium treatment. Soil solarization on raised beds was complicated by weed growth on the top edges and sides of the bed. Soil solarization is a useful alternative for flat bed culture, but is practically limited on raised beds due to insufficient weed control.

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Craig K. Chandler, Daniel E. Legard, Chang-Lin Xiao, and James C. Mertely

On standard two-row black polyethylene covered beds, `Camarosa', `Rosa Linda', and `Sweet Charlie' strawberry plants were grown at 23, 31, 38, or 46 cm within-row spacing during the 1997–98 and 1998–99 seasons at Dover, Fla. Ripe fruit were harvested twice weekly from December through March. The first 8 weeks of harvest was considered the early period; the late period consisted of all harvests after the first 8 weeks. The effect of spacing on early marketable yield was consistent across seasons and cultivars. The 23-cm spacing resulted in the highest marketable yield per unit area, followed by the 31-, 38-, and 46-cm spacing. The percentage of fruit that were small (unmarketable) was higher at the 23-cm spacing than at the wider spacings (40% vs. 35% or 36%), but spacing did not affect the percentage of fruit that were misshapen. For the late harvest period, a spacing effect on marketable yield occurred in 1998–99, but not in 1997–98. The 23-, 31-, and 38-cm spacings in 1998–99 resulted in similar late period yields, which were 15% to 21% higher than the yield resulting from the 46-cm spacing. These results indicate that marketable yields per plant during the late period were higher at the wider spacings.

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Brent L. Black, John M. Enns, and Stan C. Hokanson

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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Eric B. Bish, Daniel J. Cantliffe, and Craig K. Chandler

The demand for plug transplants by the Florida winter strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa Duch.) industry may increase as water conservation during plant establishment becomes more important and the loss of methyl bromide fumigant makes the production of bare-root transplants more problematic. A study was conducted during the 1995-96 and 1996-97 seasons to determine the effect of container size and temperature conditioning on the plant growth and early season fruit yield of `Sweet Charlie' strawberry plants. Plants in containers of three sizes (75, 150, and 300 cm3) were grown in one of two temperature-controlled greenhouses (35 °C day/25 °C night or 25 °C day/15 °C night) for the 2 weeks just prior to transplanting into a fruiting field at Dover, Fla. Plants exposed to the 25/15 °C treatment had significantly higher average root dry weights at planting in 1995 and 1996 than did plants exposed to the 35/25 °C treatment. Plants exposed to the 25/15 °C treatment also had higher average fruit yields than the plants exposed to the 35/25 °C treatment (48% and 18% higher in 1995-96 and 1996-97, respectively). The effect of container size on plant growth and yield was variable. Plants propagated in the 150- and 300-cm3 containers tended to be larger (at planting) than the plants propagated in the 75-cm3 containers, but the larger container sizes did not result in consistently higher yields.