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Winter Production of Nebraska Strawberries

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2014 National Sustainable Strawberry Initiative Project Leader Meeting

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Winter Production of Nebraska Strawberries

  1. 1. Winter Production of Nebraska Strawberries: An Idea Whose Time Has Come Ellen T. Paparozzi, PhD, Professor of Horticulture Co–Principle Investigators and Project Partners: Mr. Ryan Pekarek, M.S., Owner Pekarek’s Produce, President, Nebraska Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, Industry Partner David P. Lambe, M.B.A., Associate Professor of Practice in Horticulture Stacy A. Adams, M.S., Associate Professor of Practice in Horticulture George E. Meyer, PhD, Professor of Biological Systems Engineering Erin E. Blankenship, PhD, Professor of Statistics Paul Read, PhD, Professor of Horticulture
  2. 2. Objectives: 1 - Establish a heated high tunnel and track associated costs 2 -Test the feasibility of a commercial production timeline for growing strawberries in a heated high tunnel on a specialty crop grower’s farm and compare yield data to our smaller UNL production system (concurrently) in a double poly greenhouse. a. Track commercial production costs; record and compare sustainability data b. Answer the question – does UNL research size up? 3- Determine gross profit; years-to-return on investment for strawberry growing; a. develop a budget for winter strawberry production
  3. 3. Start up funds - Strawberry Project Structure Costs : Price ClearSpan Gothic Cold Frame furnace, doors, polycarbonate endwalls Total Structure Costs: $15,698 Site work: Clay brought in Black dirt brought in (36 yds),labor Treated Lumber (12) , concrete, landscape fabric Total Site Work: $1,171 Bench Material: Bench Lath (4rolls) 708 Freight 420 Concrete Block block (170) 192 Capmat II 1129 Total Bench Material $2,449 Hydrant installation: 5 bury hydrant (1) rock trenching, labor Total Hydrant: $979 Propane: Propane 860 gallons Tie plates, screws, hex nuts Total Propane: $1,295 Total structural start up $21,592
  4. 4. Additional costs: Convection Tube 170 Nipples for furnace 60 Labor to pipe hanging heater 100 Electric for Greenhouse 2116 Labor on electic hookup 1200 Copper line 5/8" 375 Regulators and connectors 216 Silicone and Flexiflame 151 Valves, bolts, connectors, elbow 297 Total additional costs $4,685 Total structural start up $26,277 Total Strawberry plants/pots $1,644 Total labor on-farm $1,550 Total cost for start up $29,471
  5. 5. GREENHOUSE STRAWBERRY PRODUCTION (WINTER) SCHEDULE* * Pekarek’s Produce and UNL (2013-2014) Month March Order dormant strawberry crowns (1 per sq. ft) - plan on 10% loss June Order pots, soilless mix, fertilizer (1 bag each - 20-10-20; calcium nitrate; 21-7-7, bio fungicide to dip crowns before planting September (12-20) Crowns arrive and are potted up; watered in and then placed on wet capillary mat; 4 days later start fertilizer – 100 ppm N from 20-10-20 for 4 days then 100 ppm N from calcium nitrate October 1 Flowering begins Order bumble bees; Temperature 75oF day/65oF night October 15 First berries are harvested Check pH – if above 7.0 use 21-7-7 at 100 ppm N for 7 days If deficiency symptoms use 21-7-7 at above rate October 22- December 15 Berry production peaks; Stolons removed at least weekly Be sure bumble bees still active; if not reorder; Check pH; send leaves for nutrient analysis December 15 Berry production slows; consider dropping temperature to 70oF day/57oF night; Check pH February 1 Plants starting flower again; Bring in bumble bees; Check pH February 15 – April Peak berry production that should exceed winter production Check pH; send leaves for nutrient analysis April High tunnel/greenhouse becoming too warm. Plants can be tossed or moved to the field to produce plantlets for Fall production (note: royalty payments)
  6. 6. Sustain ability Water usage – 7,650 gallons at Pekarek’s produce 3,800 gallons at UNL*
  7. 7. Propane usage – Pekarek’s heated high tunnel 4, 385 gallons = $7487.55 Natural gas usage – UNL double poly greenhouse 329,000 cu ft. = $2038.85
  8. 8. pounds per cultivar Harvest Period 'Evie-2' 'Evie-2' + 'San Andreas' 'Seascape' 'Seascape' + October - December 31 48.97 70.01 8.62 21.13 36.50 January - April 12 203.02 199.36 59.36 177.59 167.71 Totals 251.99 269.37 67.98 198.72 204.21 pounds per plant per cultivar Harvest Period 'Evie-2' 'Evie-2' + 'San Andreas' 'Seascape' 'Seascape' + October - December 31 0.204 0.280 0.082 0.094 0.168 January - April 12 0.846 0.797 0.565 0.793 0.773 number of live plants 240 250 105 224 217 that's 1,036 plants out of 1,054
  9. 9. Income Statement - Strawberries - 2013-2014 Revenue: Pints 4279.88 1556.25 sold @ 2.75 each Quarts 1300 260 sold @ $5.00 each Total Revenue 5579.88 2076 pints total Costs: Labor 1910 Propane 7487.55 Fertilizer 56.88 Electrical 0 Pesticides 12 Beneficials 182.5 Bees 552 Clamshells 346.4 Mileage 1640.8 Strawberries 1644 Total Costs 13832.13 Profit/Loss -8252.25
  10. 10. But could we? - Direct market - Milder winter and/or less propane costs - Start in January/late December? - Use the tunnel for other crops after strawberries - Use tunnel for strawberries and transplants for the farm
  11. 11. Culture change They grow ! Markets !! Rural + youth International
  12. 12. The Nebraska Strawberry Team George Meyer, BSE, Vicki Schlegel, Food Science Erin Blankenship,Statistics, Paul Read, Stacy Adams, Dave Lambe, Liz Conley, Horticulture, Ryan and Katie Pekarek
  13. 13. http://agronomy.unl.edu/cea

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