Date of Award

Winter 2016

Project Type


Program or Major

Plant Biology

Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

Iago Hale

Second Advisor

Becky Sideman

Third Advisor

Mike Sciabarrasi


The dominant strawberry production system in New Hampshire (NH) is the semi-perennial matted-row system. In this system, dormant crowns are planted in the spring and require a full year of maintenance before the first harvest. While as many two additional years of harvests can be realized in this system, strawberry root rot disease effectively limits the productive longevity of matted-row plantings in the state. Root-lesion nematode (Pratylenchus spp.) damage is often cited as a possible factor in facilitating the infection process of the causative pathogen complex of strawberry root rot; but no systematic survey for the presence of Pratylenchus spp. in NH strawberry fields has been undertaken. In the first chapter of this thesis, soil surveys reveal the presence of populations of both P. penetrans (a known pest in the region) and P. vulnus (a root-lesion nematode heretofore undocumented in the state) in strawberry plantings in NH.

In the second chapter, five NH strawberry producers were surveyed in an effort to develop an enterprise budget for strawberry operations in the state. The study found that average yield, price paid for strawberry transplants, marketing outlet (u-pick or pre-picked berries), and number of harvest years all significantly affect profitability. Yields ranged widely from 2,750 - 9,000 pounds per bearing acre, with an average of 6,193 lbs/bearing ac (or 1,833 - 6,000 pounds per planted acre, with an average of 4,253 lbs/planted ac). The net return per planted acre ranged from $3,018 - $20,954 (average $10,586). This wide range in net return illustrates the need to investigate the effects of cultural decisions on overall economics.

In the third chapter, an alternative production system known as annual plasticulture was evaluated for its potential to increase profitability for NH strawberry growers, relative to matted-row production. In all, two different annual plasticulture systems were evaluated alongside the matted-row system for material inputs, labor requirements, yields, and potential incomes over a period of two seasons. The study indicates that projected three-year average yields, net incomes, and expenses per harvest of both plasticulture systems compare favorably with those of the matted-row system. Specifically, average returns on expenses were estimated to be 205%, 646%, and 197% per year for the one-year June-bearing plasticulture system, the two-year everbearing plasticulture system, and the June-bearing matted-row system, respectively.