Date of Award
Program or Major
Master of Science
Rebecca G Sideman
Day-neutral strawberry cultivars have produced competitive yields and allowed for extended production in several recent experiments in the Upper Midwest and northeastern US, and the inclusion of small plastic-covered low tunnels has increased percent marketable yields and even total yields in some cases. However, low tunnel systems have not been evaluated for production conditions in New England, and cultivar evaluation is limited. The objectives of our experiments were to: (1) evaluate five different plastic films with diverse light-transmission profiles, as well as three mulch types (black plastic, white-on-black plastic, and bare ground) for low tunnel day-neutral strawberry production in New England, and (2) compare the performance of six standard day-neutral cultivars for their suitability at our location (‘Albion’, ‘Aromas’, ‘Monterey’, ‘Portola’, ‘San Andreas’, and ‘Seascape’). We report that during the 2016 and 2017 growing seasons in Durham, New Hampshire, season-long cumulative marketable yields were comparable between plants under tunnels than open beds. However, yields were often increased under low tunnels during the late fall months compared with open bed production. Furthermore, unmarketable yields were significantly lower under low tunnels than open beds, increasing the percentage of marketable yield from ≈70% on open beds, to ≈80-85% under low tunnels (depending on low tunnel film and cultivar).Marketable yields were greater in 2017 than 2016, averaging 483.3 and 380.1 g/plant, respectively, and also higher on plastic mulched beds than unmulched beds, but did not differ between black and white plastic mulch. However, runner emergence was significantly reduced on white mulch and unmulched beds compared with black mulch, except for in 2016, when runner emergence on black plastic under low tunnels was comparable to white mulch and unmulched beds. In the evaluation of multiple cultivars on black mulch only, season-long total marketable yields of ‘Albion’, ‘Aromas’, and ‘Monterey’ were comparable, ranging from 355.0 to 389.1 g/plant. ‘Portola’ (254.8 g/plant) and ‘Seascape’ (285.3 g/plant) were the lowest yielding cultivars, significantly lower than ‘Albion’ and ‘Monterey’. ‘San Andreas’ was intermediate in yield (289.4 g/plant), lower than ‘Albion’, but comparable to other cultivars. Marketable fruit weight was also lower for ‘Portola’ and ‘Seascape’ than all other cultivars. Runner emergence was largely dictated by cultivar, and low tunnels significantly reduced runner emergence for ‘Aromas’, ‘Monterey’, and ‘San Andreas’, and in one of two years, for ‘Albion’ on black plastic mulch. At a plant density of 13,068 plants/acre and an average ‘Albion’ yield of 12,937 lbs/acre, we estimate net revenue would range from $22,517 ($2.90/lb) to $43,215 ($4.50/lb) per acre under open field conditions.
Orde, Kaitlyn Marie, "USING DAY NEUTRAL CULTIVARS AND LOW TUNNELS TO EXTEND THE STRAWBERRY HARVEST SEASON IN THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES" (2018). Master's Theses and Capstones. 1210.