Extending Strawberry Growing Season

Growing strawberry plants in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region beneath canopy-like structures called low tunnels can allow the season to start earlier and continue through the summer and fall, according to USDA scientists.

At the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Genetic Improvement of Fruits and Vegetables Laboratory in Beltsville, MD, geneticist Kim Lewers is testing some strawberry cultivars in the new production system designed to extend the growing season in the northern and eastern U.S. Lewers’ research partners are horticulturist John Enns and support services staffer George Meyers. ARS is USDA’s chief intramural scientific research agency.

Low tunnels are canopies made of long sheets of plastic laid over support hoops that hold it about 30 inches above the strawberry bed. Strawberries are planted beneath these structures, which protect the fruit from rain, provide shade from damaging infrared and UV light, and can capture warmth during the cooler spring and fall seasons.

By protecting the plants from rain, the tunnels help to minimize two important diseases of strawberry: Botrytis and anthracnose, which thrive in the rain. Botrytis occurs in cool, wet conditions, while anthracnose takes hold in hot, wet conditions.

According to Lewers, high tunnels also are used by growers, but they can be problematic because the humidity is higher in the tunnel, which causes more Botrytis and more powdery mildew, another strawberry disease. In low tunnels, though, the humidity is the same as outside the tunnel when the sides of the tunnel are up.

The peak strawberry season in Maryland is usually mid-May to mid-June, but in Lewers’ low-tunnel production system, strawberries start earlier and continue through the fall — essentially a whole new season. In some months, yields in the low tunnels can be as high as those from the same cultivars when they are grown in California, where they were developed.

All of the strawberry plant material developed in Lewers’ research program has been and still is freely available. The plants are not patented, so they are available without special license to any nursery that wants to grow them.

Read more about this and other fruit and vegetable research in the October 2012 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

Leave a Reply

One comment on “Extending Strawberry Growing Season

  1. I have been considering covering my fall raspberries under the same concerns I believe many fruit rot problems develope from high moisture environments. cold nights warm days cause dew problems almost on a daily basis in later summer. The amount of fruit damaged by moisture in a season is huge. Would it pay economically to set up fans throughout the crops to help eliminate this moisture problem solar or through tubing like the drip irrigation system. I am glad to see moisture problems front and center I believe there on the right track, harvesting would be easier and yields larger on less land,fewer chemicals used less fertilizer more precision farming.

Featured Stories
high denisty apple orchard washington
Apples & Pears
May 29, 2016
Orchard Systems Matter With Mechanization
“It takes years to turn orchards from a big, wild 3-D tree to a narrow canopy — a lot of Read More
upclose of Israeli apple harvester
Fruits
May 28, 2016
Orchard Automation Is On The Horizon
Industry experts say the advent of fully automated orchard tasks are on the cusp of happening — with a few companies leading the automotive harvest charge. Read More
IFTA Washington Day3 6
Apples & Pears
May 27, 2016
Washington Apple Commission Elects New Leaders
The commission board also approved the export budget of $7.7 million for the upcoming 2016-17 crop, based on a crop of 135 million cartons. Read More
As this view of the San Luis Reservoir shows, California's drought is far from over. (Photo credit: David Eddy)
Fruits
May 27, 2016
California Drought Far From Over For
To preserve orchards and vineyards, growers are expected to fallow up to 350,000 acres of corn, wheat, cotton and alfalfa. Read More
These workers use a platform from Automated Ag for hand thinning. (Photo credit: Christina Herrick)
Apples & Pears
May 27, 2016
How Best To Integrate Man And Machine
If you want to implement labor-saving mechanization, you should start the conversation with the end user – your employees. Read More
Crowd protesting GMOs stock image FEATURE
Farm Marketing
May 27, 2016
Consumers Don’t Really Know What GMO Means, New Study Finds
A study from the University of Florida confirms what many farm marketers suspected: Consumers don't understand genetically modified food and organisms as well as they think they do. Read More
Asian citrus psyllid closeup
Insect & Disease Update
May 27, 2016
Alabama Agriculture Department To Conduct Citrus Psyllid Survey
Currently, Alabama is the only citrus-growing state that has not yet detected citrus greening. Read More
Ready To Spring
Insect Control
May 26, 2016
Temperature, Location Key To Predicting Leaffooted Bug Pressure
This year, leaffooted bugs are expected to be a significant problem in almonds and pistachios, but watching temperature and the Read More
First-year impact of Prunus replant disease at the Firebaugh replant trial; stunted trees in the foreground row were planted in plot of non-fumigated replant soil. (Photo credit: University of California Agriculture)
Fruits
May 26, 2016
Consider Fumigating For Nematodes Before Replanting Almonds, Stone Fruit
Stone fruit and almond growers looking to replant orchards might want to invest in soil samples to assess nematode populations Read More
The Latest
Apples & Pears
May 29, 2016
Orchard Systems Matter With Mechanizatio…
“It takes years to turn orchards from a big, wild 3-D tree to a narrow canopy — a lot of Read More
Fruits
May 28, 2016
Orchard Automation Is On The Horizon
Industry experts say the advent of fully automated orchard tasks are on the cusp of happening — with a few companies leading the automotive harvest charge. Read More
Apples & Pears
May 27, 2016
Washington Apple Commission Elects New L…
The commission board also approved the export budget of $7.7 million for the upcoming 2016-17 crop, based on a crop of 135 million cartons. Read More
Fruits
May 27, 2016
California Drought Far From Over For
To preserve orchards and vineyards, growers are expected to fallow up to 350,000 acres of corn, wheat, cotton and alfalfa. Read More
Apples & Pears
May 27, 2016
How Best To Integrate Man And Machine
If you want to implement labor-saving mechanization, you should start the conversation with the end user – your employees. Read More
Farm Marketing
May 27, 2016
Consumers Don’t Really Know What G…
A study from the University of Florida confirms what many farm marketers suspected: Consumers don't understand genetically modified food and organisms as well as they think they do. Read More
Insect & Disease Update
May 27, 2016
Alabama Agriculture Department To Conduc…
Currently, Alabama is the only citrus-growing state that has not yet detected citrus greening. Read More
Insect Control
May 26, 2016
Temperature, Location Key To Predicting …
This year, leaffooted bugs are expected to be a significant problem in almonds and pistachios, but watching temperature and the Read More
Fruits
May 26, 2016
Consider Fumigating For Nematodes Before…
Stone fruit and almond growers looking to replant orchards might want to invest in soil samples to assess nematode populations Read More
Farm Marketing
May 26, 2016
Who Grows Organically — And Who Doesn…
We surveyed 816 fruit and vegetable growers and found that farm marketers and vegetable growers are much more likely than their peers to embrace the practice. Read More
Farm Marketing
May 26, 2016
Farm Dinners: Your Most Powerful Marketi…
Farm dinners are a hassle. They’re expensive. And ridiculously effective. Read More
Cucurbits
May 25, 2016
Whitefly Threat Has Florida Growers On H…
Researchers, state agencies working together to prevent a potential outbreak. Read More
Crop Protection
May 25, 2016
More Apps Help Growers Identify Insects …
Berries, apples, pears, and cherries now rolled into new app series from Clemson University. Read More
Citrus
May 25, 2016
Monsanto Says Bayer Bid ‘Financially Ina…
Proposal cited as undervalued, not able to address financial, regulatory risks. Read More
Stone Fruit
May 25, 2016
Researchers Study Why Cherry Cracking Af…
German researchers studied how water uptake and fruit skin determined a cultivar’s susceptibility to cherry cracking. Read More
Farm Management
May 25, 2016
Report Highlights Benefits Of Trans-Paci…
National Potato Council says report from the International Trade Commission offers the benefits the free trade agreement would offer growers. Read More
Fruits
May 25, 2016
Farm Bureau Says EPA, Army Corps Of Engi…
AFBF told Congress that the Army Corps' novel interpretations of environmental law are threatening farmers in California and other areas of the country. Read More
Citrus
May 25, 2016
NRCS Invests $4.3 Million To Combat Clim…
The Natural Resources Conservation Service in California is committing funds to help farmers and ranchers mitigate the effects of climate change and help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Read More
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]