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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Wooster, Ohio » Application Technology Research » Research » Research Project #441475

Research Project: Development and Integration of Next-Generation Propagation Strategies to Increase the Resilience of the US Strawberry Supply Chain

Location: Application Technology Research

Project Number: 5082-21000-001-058-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2021
End Date: Aug 31, 2025

The overall objective is to develop resilient cost-effective strawberry propagation protocols and technologies that will increase propagation efficiency and reduce disease incidence in production fields. This is subdivided into six project objectives: 1) characterize mother plant physiological responses (propagation/flowering) to the environment, 2) develop environmental protocols for transplant establishment, conditioning (runnering/flowering), and long-term storage, 3) circumscribe genotypic variability based on phenotypic responses to environmental treatments, 4) determine expected economic costs/returns to the industry of adopting developed techniques and estimate the socioeconomic impact of adoption on the US strawberry supply chain, 5) translate and integrate new propagation systems with industry partners, and 6) develop services and products, and conduct extension and outreach activities to industry and public stakeholders.

The overall approach for Objective 1 will be to evaluate the impact of environmental conditions (temperature, photoperiod, light intensity and spectra, and carbon dioxide concentration) and root zone conditions (nutrient dynamics, substrate chemical and physical properties, and container architecture) on strawberry mother plant physiology and subsequent runner production and quality. Strawberry mother plants will be established in soilless substrates. Cooperators will evaluate strawberry runner production and quality in response to temperature, photoperiod, light intensity, and their interactions will be assessed in a greenhouse production system, and runner production and quality in response to temperature, photoperiod, light quality and intensity, and carbon dioxide concentration will be assessed in an indoor production system. The root zone environment, including the impact of nutrient dynamics, substrate chemical and physical properties, and container architecture will simultaneously be assessed. ARS will conduct the nutrient studies. Different concentrations and ratios of plant nutrients will be evaluated for their impact on runner production (weekly and overall), runner quality (e.g., biomass, rooting percentage, time to root), and mother plant quality. The goal is to optimize production protocols which maintain healthy strawberry mother plants that direct resources towards the production of numerous, high quality plantlets rather than flowering/fruiting or excessive mother plant vegetative growth. After the initial environmental, nutrition, and substrate experiments have been conducted, ARS and cooperators will select a promising subset of aerial and root zone conditions. They will then be combined and evaluated at a system level to determine propagation rates, propagation costs, resource use efficiency, and overall efficiency.