It’s strawberry season and even we have caught strawberry fever! The Mid-Valley Small Farms team is excited to announce that they are conducting new research on strawberry production. This Research and Extension program, supported by the Oregon Strawberry Commission, will focus on best practices for 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, such as Hood, Tillamook and Totem, which makes them a practical and profitable choice for fresh market production. While processed berries currently make up a larger share of the market in Oregon, there is a growing demand for locally produced fresh organic fruit. Thus, the time is ripe to develop production system guidelines and best practices for farmers in Oregon wanting to grow strawberries for fresh market.
This project will cover a wide range of topics, including the production of organic strawberry plugs, season extension technologies, such as high and low tunnels, nutrient management, intercropping with cover crops, and strawberry cultivar evaluation. Of particular interest, some demonstration plots will utilize soil solarization as a means of pre-plant soil preparation and may incorporate native species into the cover crop mix. The project hopes to determine possible benefits of using these practices for rotation and intercropping.
The Mid-Valley Small Farms team is also excited to partner with farms like Minto Island Growers and the Marion-Polk Food Share’s Youth Farm for experimental plots. The Small Farms team is working with these partner farms to set up drip lines, lay plastic, and plant strawberries. The plots will demonstrate three different day-neutral cultivars grown in raised plasticulture beds. These farm plots, along with the plots at the North Willamette Research and Extension Center, will provide diverse growing conditions and therefore more robust data from which to draw conclusions about best strawberry practices.
Stay tuned for research updates and upcoming workshops on strawberry transplant production. For more information on this strawberry research project, contact Javier Fernandez-Salvador.