July/August Growers Checklist (E. Barclay Poling, July 1, 2013)
- Harvest is over. Destroy plants now! Plowing and disking under old plants is the best strategy for preventing further spread of aphid borne viruses (e.g. Mild Yellow Edge Virus, Strawberry Mottle Virus). In areas with perennial planting systems (e.g. matted row), there is potential for the virus to spread to new plantings in late summer/fall. If you have matted row plants that are infected with virus, these should be destroyed now.
- Other immediate field operations: remove and recycle plastic – some growers use tobacco balers to compress the plastic before it goes to the landfill; consider planting a cover crop – wtih all these rains there is lots of good moisture!
- Before making the same plant order as last year, critically evaluate the relative profitability of your different markets (U-pick, Ready Pick, and/or Off-farm). For example, if you experienced further decline in U-Pick sales, this may the time to scale back Chandler production (this variety is primarily a U-Pick variety)
- If your crop was really late this year, have you considered growing an early ripening variety Sweet Charlie? But, you will have to hurry to place this plant order, as Sweet Charlie supplies may be limited.
- One thing YOU DO NOT WANT TO DO is go with extra early Chandler planting dates. If Chandler is producing in excess of 100 flowers per plant, your planting date is probably too early – consider a slightly later planting date if you keep running into problems with excess blooms and small berries. Also, early plantings have the undesirable effect of making the crop later in the spring by another 3-5 days (that might mean not being open on a critical weekend).
- Consider staggering your Chandler plug planting dates over a week’s time, so that not all of your crop peaks at the same time. Tobacco growers will typically stagger their planting dates because of tobacco harvest labor limitations – this same idea can be profitably applied by Chandler growers who seem to keep having challenges with extreme crop concentrations that can make it difficult to get fields cleanly picked even in good weather!
- Another Chandler crop diversification strategy is to consider planting fresh dugs! Fresh dugs can produce an earlier crop than plugs, and fruit size can be very impressive in the early season. You may wish to experiment with California cut-off plants as another interesting strategy for producing larger berries in the mid-season when Chandler plug berry size drops off. It may be worth a try!
- Camarosa fruit quality was very high in 2013, as were Camarosa marketable yields (on healthy plants). a different selection of varieties give you more weeks of fruiting, and not so much fruiting in just a 2-3 week period?
- In preparing your plant order, consider the potential water situation for the season ahead – plugs are far more efficient in water utilization than fresh dugs.
- Don’t wait until the last minute to order plants or tips – tips need to arrive one month prior to planting.
- Soil test in early July. Lime early in the summer to raise pH to 6.0 to 6.2. Incorporate lime when existing beds are broken down.
- Use overhead irrigate to soften soil as needed and subsoil completely.
- MAKE A POINT TO STAY IN CLOSE CONTACT WITH YOUR PLANT SUPPLIER THIS SUMMER AND DO NOT BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR PERIODIC REPORTS UPDATES ON PLANT HEALTH
- Get mist system set up by early August if growing your own tips. Also order soil, trays, and fertilizer.
- Stick tips by mid-to-late August, depending on location.
- For planting in mid-Sept (Western NC), apply preplant fertilizer in mid August.
- Make a fumigation plan, set a schedule, acquire necessary materials. Be sure to allow appropriate plant-back intervals and an additional cushion in case of bad weather.
- Check out your fumigation rig and do any adjustments and repairs well in advance of fumigation.
- Renew respirator fit testing (must be current within one year of fumigation.)
- Attend the Strawberry Preplant Meeting for your area. (announcements will be posted on this website)
I will be ending my year with the NC State University Extension Service on August 12th. I have really enjoyed my year back and truly look forward to working with many of you again in the future. In the July/Aug NCSA newsletter, I make a few remarks about what I am planning to do in the immediate term.
Have a great summer!
Professor Emeritus/Extension Strawberry Specialist
Department of Horticultural Science
Campus Box 7609, 162A Kilgore Hall
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