Submitted to: International Journal of Fruit Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/10/2020
Publication Date: 6/4/2020
Citation: Lewers, K.S., Fleisher, D.H., Daughtry, C.S., Vinyard, B.T. 2020. Low-tunnel strawberry production: Comparison of cultivars and films. International Journal of Fruit Science. https://doi.org/10.1080/15538362.2020.1768616.
Interpretive Summary: Strawberries are economically valuable to farmers and are so popular with consumers that they expect to be able to buy strawberries all year long. Unfortunately, in much of the US, traditional strawberries produce fruit only three to four weeks a year. Growing repeat-fruiting strawberries under low tunnels was recently shown to extend strawberry season from a few weeks to several months in the Mid-Atlantic. Many commercially available plastic films are available to cover low tunnels, and many named repeat-fruiting strawberry varieties are available to grow under the low tunnels. Growers need to know which films and which varieties of strawberries will result in the highest yield of top-quality strawberries for sale. This study evaluated yield, percent rotted yield, berry weight, percent marketable yield, and market score of six repeat-fruiting strawberry varieties grown in low tunnels covered with four different plastic films. Three strawberry varieties, Monterey, Albion, and Portola, produced better than average results, produced greater yield in the year of planting than in the year after planting, and should be good choices for growers to try. Yield and quality for these three varieties grown under TIII TES/IR 4 mil film resulted in above average yield and fruit quality. Other variety and plastic film combinations also resulted in acceptable yield and fruit quality. This research will be valuable for strawberry growers trying to extend their harvest and sales seasons.
Technical Abstract: Growing repeat-fruiting strawberries (Fragaria ×ananassa Duchesne ex Rozier) under low tunnels extends the strawberry harvest season from a few weeks to several months in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast US. Six cultivars were compared under low tunnels covered with a standard polyethylene film and three other films purported to improve growing conditions. Several film and cultivar combinations resulted in above average production. The combination of growing ‘Albion’, ‘Monterey’, and ‘Portola’ under TIII TES/IR 4 mil film (TES film) resulted in above average yield and fruit quality . Yield, berry weight, market score, and percent marketable yield were correlated positively with each other.