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Sustainability Strawberry Production Systems for Mississippi and Surrounding Markets


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2014 National Sustainable Strawberry Initiative Project Leader Meeting

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Sustainability Strawberry Production Systems for Mississippi and Surrounding Markets

  1. 1. Sustainable Strawberry Production Systems for Mississippi and Surrounding Markets William B. Evans*, R.G. Snyder, R. Arancibia, J.C. Diaz-Perez, E. Stafne, J. Main, and G. Bi *MAFES Truck Crops Branch P.O. Box 231, Crystal Springs, MS 39059-0231 (
  2. 2. Introduction • Few Strawberry growers in Mississippi • Significant local industry in Louisiana, historically more important in Mississippi • Little local expertise, infrastructure • Growing local demand and opportunity • Good climate and soils available • High value crop that could be locally wholesaled or retailed similar to how Louisiana berries are marketed
  3. 3. Objectives • To test cultivars for performance in Mississippi under conventional and organic culture • To train growers, Extension and others on strawberry production methods appropriate for Mississippi and surrounding areas • To build interest in commercial strawberry production in and around Mississippi
  4. 4. Components • Field Trials • Post Harvest Tests • Short Course
  5. 5. Choctaw Tunnels
  6. 6. Trial methods • Seven cultivars, four replications • 20 plugs/plot • Twin rows • 12 inches in and between rows, offset • 24 inch bed tops, about 4 inch final height • Black plastic, drip – no frost sprinklers • Row covers as needed • Conventional (Choctaw and Crystal Springs); Organic (Tupelo)
  7. 7. Cultivars • Radiance • Festival • Camarosa • Camino Real • San Andreas • Albion • Chandler
  8. 8. Post-Harvest Tests • Three sampling times: – At Harvest – After simulated regional shipping – After shipping and simulated storage • Data to collect: – Brix – Titratable Acidity – Firmness • Results Pending
  9. 9. Data and Evaluation • Harvests every 4 to 7 days, depending on maturity • Graded USDA No. 1 and 2s, culls • Weighed • Berries held for brix, TA
  10. 10. Plugs on Planting Day
  11. 11. First Time, Straight Row!
  12. 12. Transplanting
  13. 13. Organic Farm Site
  14. 14. Fruit Set
  15. 15. First Fruits
  16. 16. Antracnose
  17. 17. Deer Damage
  18. 18. Deer Damage
  19. 19. Preliminary Outcomes • Organic and non-organic crops can be produced well • Deer reduced quality and yield at Choctaw • Hard winter can interrupt winter set • Bed preparation and weed control will be important • Irrigation and fertigation were “easy” for new growers with training • Huge interest by individual consumers, grocer and restaurant trade • Interested growers see potential for more production and return
  20. 20. Short Course • Two days • Choctaw Extension Service Office • Classroom and field tour • State and National Experts • Pre- and Post- Tests • Free to participants
  21. 21. Short Course Activities and Results • Full range of topics and experts recruited to speak • Intense advertising and recruitment for six weeks leading up to the course • Speakers were excellent – Grower and University Attendees learned a lot – Barkley Poling was featured speaker • Engaged one lead grower for hours after – Presentations will be posted on the MSUCares page •
  22. 22. Short Course Activities and Results • Attendance was not as we had hoped, however, with few growers and no county level extension personnel • Tests indicate attendees gained crop and production knowledge • Residual effects will be great because of the training for MSU and a few key growers
  23. 23. Project Impacts • Short Course was a great training. MSU and growers now have seen the potential of the crop – Relationships developed • Horticulture at Choctaw changed forever – First use of plastic mulch provided excellent training and wa an “a-ha moment” – Collaboration was a success, more projects likely • One follow-on proposal submitted – Grower wish for an on-farm trial in 2014-15 being discussed • Relationships with experts and suppliers established • Crop knowledge increased • Germ of revived industry planted in several ears
  24. 24. Questions? Twitter@npkveg