Wenjing Guan

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Strawberries are primarily grown in the matted row system in Indiana, in which bare-root strawberry plants are set in the spring, fruit is first harvested in the second year and plantings are renovated each year for a few seasons. Growers in Southern Indiana have expressed interest in growing strawberries in the annual plasticultural system. With this annual system, plants are set in the fall and harvested in the spring of the following year. Plantings are not normally carried over a second year. Although the annual plasticultural system is very popular in the southern states, its usage is limited in Indiana mainly because our short fall weather conditions pose a challenge for strawberry plants to develop enough branch crowns, which allows them to achieve the optimal yield in the following spring. In the past two years, we have been testing the annual strawberry production system with additional protection from high tunnels[Read More…]

Chandler plants

Although strawberry plants can be quite cold hardy, they need protection to survive the winter. In North Carolina, growers use floating row covers to protect strawberries in the winter. In Indiana, straw mulch is a more traditional way of winter protection for strawberries grown in a matted row system. After two relatively mild winters in 2015 and 2016, I heard successful stories about growing strawberries with the plasticulture system and using row covers for winter protection in Southern Indiana. Can the system also be successful in a colder winter, like the one that just passed? Our ongoing strawberry study will provide the answer. This article provides an update from this project comparing strawberries covered with straw mulch (about 4-inch thick) and row covers (two layers of 1.5-oz/yard2 row cover laid on wire hoops) this past winter (Figure 1).   Temperature Between Dec. 27 to Jan 6, we had the coldest[Read More…]

Strawberry production in Indiana primarily utilizes the matted row system in which bare root strawberry plants are set in the spring, fruit is first harvested in the second year and plants are maintained for a few seasons. Strawberry production using an annual plasticulture system is popular in the southern states, where strawberries are planted in the fall and harvested in the next spring. In the annual plasticulture system, strawberries have a longer harvest period and produce fruit with better quality. Growing strawberries as an annual crop is a challenge in Indiana. This is because our short fall makes it difficult for plants to reach the desirable size that leads to a sufficient yield in the following spring. This situation can be changed with the use of high tunnels that provide additional heat units and moderate frost protection. In a trial conducted in a 30 ×96 high tunnel at Southwest Purdue[Read More…]

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We are familiar with strawberries grown as a perennial crop in Indiana. Bare root strawberry plants are set in the spring. Fruit is first harvested in the second year and the planting is renovated annually. Using this system, strawberry seasons last for three to four weeks from middle May through June. The traditional system has been replaced with an annual plasticulture system in the southern United States ever since the 1980s. In the annual plasticulture system, strawberry plugs (rooted runner tips) are transplanted in plastic covered beds in late summer or fall. Fruit are harvested in spring in the next year. After the fruiting season, the plants are removed. The annual plasticulture system is favored in the south because it has a longer harvest period and produces strawberries with better quality. In Indiana, trials established to test the annual plasticulture system had limited success because of short fall season and harsh[Read More…]

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Last August, we set up a high tunnel strawberry variety trial at Southwest Purdue Agricultural Center. There are 10 strawberry varieties including 3 dayneutral varieties and 7 June-bearings. Thanks to the nice fall weather, we did have a fall/winter harvest on dayneutral (Albion, Sweet Ann and San Andrea) and two early June-bearing varieties (Sweet Charlie and Radiance). In the winter, we covered the plants with row covers at the nights when temperature was below 32° F (Fig 3), and took the covers off when temperature inside high tunnel was above 60° F. Majority of the cultivars stopped growing in the winter, except ‘Radiance’. We tried to save those ‘Radiance’ flowers growing in the winter, and harvested a few ‘Radiance’ berries in January and February. However, we realize even those flowers survived the low temperatures, it is difficult for them to be completely pollinated. In late January, we pruned all the[Read More…]