Sustainability of coldclimate strawberry production systems

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Acta Horticulturae



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An experiment was conducted to compare three cold-climate strawberry pro-duction systems. Replicated field plots of conventional matted row, advanced matted row and cold-climate plasticulture production systems were established in 2002 at Beltsville, MD, and managed according to commercial standard practices for the re-gion. The following components of sustainability were determined: economic viability and efficiency, environmental impacts, and public acceptance. Marketable yields for the first harvest season in the spring of 2003 were lower than normal due to above average rainfall and high disease incidence. The conventional matted row was the highest yielding at 17,400kg/ha, followed by the advanced matted row and plasticul-ture with 13,200 and 11,800 kg/ha, respectively. During the establishment year, soil loss from rain-induced surface runoff was more than 4-fold greater in conventional matted row, and 1.5-fold greater in plasticulture compared to advanced matted row. To identify preferences of pick-your-own customers, volunteers harvested fruit from subplots in each system and completed questionnaires. Overall, the volunteers indi-cated a preference for plasticulture, which was likely a result of larger fruit size, ease of harvest, and a higher percentage of marketable fruit.

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