Using Low-volume Irrigation Programs and Crop Protectants to Establish Strawberry Transplants

Ixchel Hernandez-Ochoa, Bielinski M Santos, Craig D Stansly, Pei-wen Huang, Craig D Stanley, Pei-wen Huang

Abstract


Strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa) production in Florida relies on bare-root transplants to establish the crop between September and October. During strawberry establishment, sprinkler irrigation is applied during 10 to 14 consecutive days to cool down strawberry crowns and provide moisture to promote new roots and shoots. This activity consumes approximately 540,000 gal/acre of water. Two studies were conducted to assess the influence of low-volume sprinklers and crop protectants on required water volumes during transplant establishment. The effects of various irrigation programs using high impact and mini-sprinklers [continuous irrigation at 4.5 gal/min, continuous irrigation at 1.5 gal/min, and intermittent irrigation (10 minutes on and 10 minutes off) at 1.5 gal/min] were evaluated for strawberry transplant establishment. There were no significant differences among treatments, with an average early yield of 1.9 tons/acre. Kaolin clay was also evaluated as a crop protectant for strawberry transplants at six grower fields. Treatments
were: a) 10 days of sprinkler irrigation as the control and b) 7 days of sprinkler irrigation with application of kaolin clay on the 8th day. Establishment, leaf greenness, and plant diameter were measured between 2 and 3 weeks after
transplanting. There was no difference between the treatments with 99.5% of establishment. These two technologies have the potential to reduce water volumes for strawberry establishment by 16% to 33%, which is equivalent to 600 to 1000 million gal of water per season.


Keywords


Fragaria ×ananassa, sprinkler irrigation, kaolin clay, water management, sun scalding

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Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc.     ISSN 0886-7283