Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: December 15, 2008
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: In the mid-Atlantic coast region of the United States (30 deg N, 77 deg W), the harvest period for short-day (SD) strawberry cultivars is only 7 weeks long from early May to late June. Strawberry transplants from a new propagation technique that improves fall flowering were grown under high tunnel to determine their potential for fall to early winter fruit production. Plug plants of SD cultivars ‘Sweet Charlie’, ‘Carmine’, ‘Strawberry Festival’, and ‘Camarosa’ were produced from runner tips taken in either early July or early August and established early September inside a high tunnel or in open field. The July-plugged plants increased their branch crown number to 3 by early November while August-plugged plants had a number of 2. In the early July treatment, fall flowering occurred as early as late September in 83% of the transplants. Less than 30% of August-plugged transplants had flowered by mid November. July- plants established inside a high tunnel produced 320 grams of fruit in November and December while August-plugged and outdoor plants produced no harvestable fruit in the fall. All plants produced an acceptable spring crop. When July-plugged transplants were retained in trays until late August, leaves formed a dense canopy above the plant crowns and transplant crowns were illuminated only by far-red light. It is possible that shading of transplant crowns in August caused flower bud initiation to occur even under long-day photoperiod and high temperature conditions. An experiment was performed in which the plant crowns were illuminated 16 h-day-1 with red light in August. The results showed that red light reduced and delayed fall flowering. Under high tunnel conditions, July-plugged plants grew and produced fruit until late December. In spring, plants in the high tunnel started to produce fruit one month earlier than those in the open field. The combination of July-plugged transplants and high tunnel production will allow SD strawberry cultivars to fruit in fall and spring in the mid-Atlantic coast region.