Time is Ripe for Organic Strawberry Research

There is a growing demand for locally-produced organic fruit,
There is a growing demand for locally-produced organic fruit,
By: Tessa Barker, student researcher

The Mid-Valley Small Farms Program is kicking off a research and Extension program on organic and conventional, day-neutral strawberries for fresh market. Previous studies in the Pacific Northwest have focused primarily on June-bearing strawberries. However, day-neutral cultivars such as Albion and Seascape have a longer harvest season than June-bearing cultivars (ie. Hood, Tillamook and Totem), which makes them a practical and profitable choice for fresh market production. While the processed berries make up a larger share of the market in Oregon, there is a growing demand for locally produced fresh organic fruit. The time is ripe to develop production system guidelines and best practices for farmers in Oregon wanting to grow strawberries for fresh market.

Once funding is secured, components of the strawberry project will include research plots at the North Willamette Research and Extension Center, as well as demonstration plots at the Oregon State University Organic Growers’ Club Student Farm, and Marion-Polk Food Share Youth Farm. This project will cover a wide range of topics, including the production of organic plugs, season extension technologies, such as high and low tunnels, nutrient management, intercropping with cover crops, and cultivar evaluation. Some demonstration plots will also utilize soil solarization as a means of pre-plant soil preparation and may incorporate native species into the cover crop mix, to determine possible benefits of using this practice for rotation and intercropping.

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