Evaluation of Freeze Protection Methods for Strawberry Production in Florida

Bielinski M Santos, David N Moore, Teresa P Salame-Donoso, Craig D Stanley, Alicia J Whidden

Abstract


A study was conducted to compare the performance of freeze protection methods on strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa Duch.) growth and yields. Treatments consisted of using: a) 4.5 gal/min sprinkler heads (control), b) 3.5 gal/min sprinkler heads, c)heavy row covers on the crop canopy (0.9 oz/yd2), d) heavy row covers on 1.5-ft high minitunnel hoops, e) light row covers on the crop canopy (0.6 oz/yd2), f) light row covers on 1.5-ft-high minitunnel hoops, and g) 16-ft high tunnels. The minimum air temperature without freeze protection practices in the field during the season was 21 °F, but the minimum temperature directly above the crop canopy was 34 °F in covered plots regardless of the cover weight and the use of hoops and 33 °F inside the high tunnels. No water was needed in plots with row covers and inside high tunnels, whereas approximately 39 acre-inch/acre of water were needed in the control plots. Using non-irrigation alternatives for freeze protection resulted in the highest early and total fruit weights, where total yields in plots treated with these non-irrigation alternatives ranged between 15.1 and 15.4 ton/acre while there was approximately a 20% fruit weight decline when sprinkler irrigation was utilized, regardless of the output volume.


Keywords


Fragaria ×ananassa, sprinkler irrigation, water management, best management practices, cold weather

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