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Revitalizing Strawberry Production in Arkansas and the Surrounding Region via Extended Season Production Systems


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2014 National Sustainable Strawberry Initiative Project Leader Meeting

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Revitalizing Strawberry Production in Arkansas and the Surrounding Region via Extended Season Production Systems

  1. 1. Revitalizing Strawberry Production in Arkansas and the Surrounding Region via Extended Season Production Systems M. Elena Garcia, Professor- Extension Fruit and Nut Specialist
  2. 2. Justification • The strawberry industry arose in Arkansas in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries • Climatic conditions in the state were considered favorable for growing and marketing a high quality berry
  3. 3. Arkansas Production Statistics • 1926- 15,000 acres • 1970- 1,500 acres • 1979 - 400 acres • 2012 - <200 acres
  4. 4. Arkansas Production Today • 90% of the strawberries grown in Arkansas are sold in local markets • Farmers’ Markets and demand for locally produced and higher quality produce has created lucrative opportunities for growers of this highly sought after berry
  5. 5. Strawberry production in AR • Currently in Arkansas the fresh strawberry market extends from April to May • There is market potential for fresh, locally grown strawberries throughout the year. • Off-season production would be a unique and specialized item for holiday consumption, and could bring high returns to the grower
  6. 6. Program Objective (Initiated in 2010) • To determine feasibility for off-season strawberry production under a high tunnel plasticulture system – To determine cultivars best suited to the local environment in a high tunnel plasticulture system – To determine effect of biofumigation – To determine nitrogen fertilizer needs and their effect on arthropods
  7. 7. Revitalizing Strawberry Production in Arkansas and the Surrounding Region via Extended Season Production Systems UA Strawberry Working Group • Dr. D. Johnson (Entomology) – Barbara Lewis • Dr. Rodriguez (Ag. Econ. & Agribusiness) • Dr. K. Gibson (Food Sci.) • Dr. M. Evans (Horticulture) • Dr. E. Garcia (Horticulture) – David Dickey – Susan Frey – Megan McGovern – Taunya Ernst- Fruit Research Station Artist: Passmore, Deborah Griscom, 1840-1911
  8. 8. Objectives: • Obj. 1: Expand and extend strawberry production in Arkansas and the surrounding region through demonstration of: 1) modern cultivar performance, 2) alternative production systems, and 3) innovative production methods (Garcia) • Obj. 2: Demonstrate integration of pest management by utilizing predatory species, exclusion netting, and other best management practices to increase the economic and environmental sustainability of strawberry production systems (Johnson)
  9. 9. • Obj. 3: Evaluate and compare the economic sustainability of the various production systems (Rodriguez) • Obj. 4: Assess food safety risk perceptions among strawberry producers and design a food safety workshop with outreach and educational materials specific to the strawberry industry (Gibson) • Obj. 5: Create professional quality videos that document and demonstrate performance of the various production systems and practices (Evans)
  10. 10. Demonstration Projects Projects (HT, low tunnels, field) • Nutrition • Color mulches • Mite study • Bed height • Organic (cultivars) • Interactive budgets
  11. 11. Dormant Spring Strawberries under row cover (January 2014) High Tunnel Producing Winter Strawberries (January 2014) Freeze damage Tubes of water = heat sink
  12. 12. Jan. 29 Jan. 13 Damage crown Damage crown Covered with straw blanket
  13. 13. Inside HT under covers - Mid- Feb 2014 Outside under covers – Mid-Feb 2014
  14. 14. Workshops and Trainings • Organic strawberry production – Clarksville – Master Gardener and beginner farmers • HT production and field day- April 16 – Fayetteville – Ext agents, farmers, NRCS personnel • In-Depth School- May 5 and 6 – Fayetteville – Farmers, agents, NRCS
  15. 15. Outreach Activities: • Not as well attended as expected • Advertised to attract “serious” potential and active growers and Extension agents • “High” evaluations
  16. 16. Impact • We have provided growers information on alternative strawberry production systems HT, LT, and HT-movable, organic , advantages and disadvantages of these systems compared with field production • Educational activities well received – Attendees have learned the basics of strawberry production – Decrease the risks associated with strawberry production
  17. 17. Questions? This project is funded by a grant from the Walmart Foundation and administered by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Center for Agricultural and Rural Sustainability.”