Submitted to: HortScience
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: April 24, 2001
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: In eastern North America, strawberries have traditionally been grown in the matted row production system. In efforts to increase yields and improve profitability, growers in the mid-Atlantic region have also been testing the annual hill or plasticulture system. However, with the scheduled phase-out of methyl bromide and no suitable alternative yet identified, new approaches are needed to address pest problems in strawberry production. A modified or advanced matted row system has been developed at the USDA research station at Beltsville Maryland, which incorporates raised beds, sub-surface drip irrigation, and the use of a cover crop residue mulch. Over the past five years, the small fruit breeding program at Beltsville has conducted replicated yield trials on both plasticulture and advanced matted row production systems. Plantings in both systems were established on land which had not grown strawberries or received methyl bromide fumigation for at least 3 years. To compare advanced matted row to annual hill, data for genotypes which were grown in both systems and over multiple years were selected from 1997 - 2000 seasons. Production was earlier on black plastic mulch, but length of season, as indexed by number of bi-weekly harvests, did not differ with cropping system. Total yields were genotype dependant with several genotypes including 'Allstar', 'Northeaster' and B440 producing >20% more fruit in the annual hill system, while B24, B244 and B443 produced more on advanced matted row. A comparison of plant performance in these two systems provides important information for evaluating cropping systems in the absence of methyl bromide, and determining best management practices for the mid-Atlantic region.