Decision Could Go Either Way on Advisories! (12/19/14)

— Written By

Good morning,

There are good arguments on both sides of this question as to whether the Strawberry Weather Advisories should remain public in 2015, or go private.   I just got this email a second ago from a grower in Mississippi:

Dr. Poling,

I am partial to option #1, and am willing to contribute the $250 average.
Brooks Brownlee
Brownlee Farms
Red Banks MS 38661
Editor’s note: What is so interesting is that I also saw an email from earlier in the year from Brooks that is an example of why it might be a really good thing to keep this public:
To: barclay_poling <>
Sent: Sun, Mar 30, 2014 11:14 am
Subject: Mississippi Frost

 Dr. Poling,

 I have followed your advisories from afar for several years.  Thanks for all you do to help and promote the Southeastern Strawberry Grower.  I just wanted to give my east coast friends a heads up.
 On Friday night and Saturday morning we had about an inch of rain.  Forecasts early Saturday morning for my location 38661 called for upper 30’s and lower 40’s on Sunday morning.  Strong north winds during the day on Saturday with no wind forecast for Saturday night and early Sunday morning told me it was going to get colder with ample moisture for a heavy frost.  My crew and I meticulously pulled 7 acres of wet covers over blooming berries mid-day on Saturday trying to allow enough time for the wind to dry them before dark…Big job.
 Sunday morning…heavy frost.  Experience in this situation coupled with technology served us well.
 Brooks Brownlee
Brownlee Farms
Editor’s further note: I think one of the most important reasons this should continue as a public advisory is that these kinds of grower communications are of immense interest to other growers who are also being challenged by many of the same problems. Growers want to know how other growers are handling things. This is an incredibly complex crop, and I can assure you that no one has written the final book on Eastern Strawberry Plasticulture! As I said in a manual that I recently produced for a New Grower Plasticulture Workshop in Pinehurst:
“Strawberry plasticulture production can be profitable, but very intensive management is required to prevent losses from weather, disease and other variable factors.  Whether it is knowing how to interpret a SkyBit forecast to protect strawberry blossoms with sprinkler irrigation on a frosty night, or understanding IPM (Integrated Pest Management) practices for protecting the fruit from Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD), it is fair to say that strawberry plasticulture production is a very management-intensive business, and one that we still are learning a lot about!”
So, maybe I do sort of get overly excited at times about a sudden change in the weather, and send out more advisories than are needed, but sometimes it’s that last update that helps you make the right decision.
How many times have you heard people say that if they just learn one new thing at a conference, it was worth going? If just one advisory out of 100 changes the financial outcome of your 2015 season, then maybe its worth putting up with getting as many as 2-3 advisories a day?
I would also like to comment that with universities strapped the way they are now for money, including freezes on travel, or no travel, I am a firm believer that this advisory service can give interested faculty a chance to see grower fields without having to leave their office. Numerous advisories last season included photos of grower fields all over Eastern US.
A note from Kentucky:
“I like the public approach due to the fact that I can enroll the other farmers that I am working with and they can read it directly without me creating an additional email. I know they can enroll also, and pay the price, but many of them would not (many are new growers in KY) due the cost. Without the public service, new growers will be calling me much more, and I will gladly answer their questions. But it can be very time consuming to answer the same questions multiple times that could have been addressed in the advisories. It is great blessing to use the existing advisories instead of creating another one for the same purpose.I will support your decision for PUBLIC or PRIVATE. Van Meter Family Farm will enroll privately and subscribe to Sky Bit, or you can put us down for the same donation that we made last year for the public service.MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Danny Van Meter
Van Meter Family Farm

VOTING CLOSES AT 5 pm today: (right now it is virtually split)

Here is the survey sent out early this week:

DECISION-TIME: The 1st of the Year is Creeping Up on Us! If you would like to see these Strawberry Weather Alerts continue next year, let me know which option you would prefer (only 2 choices):

1. Make a personal financial contribution to the NC Ag Foundation, and this would allow continuation of these weekly OUTLOOKS, as well as state by state AWIS forecast map and general strawberry weather updates (written by me). The advisories also give growers information on production issues, as well as frequent grower discussions and crop photos. An average grower contribution to this service last season was $250. Industry members contributed $500. We also had support from the VA Strawberry Grower Association, as well as a few consultants. We raised almost $15,000.


2. I am interested in a fairly priced private subscription service including these weekly Outlooks, as well as state by state AWIS forecast maps and general strawberry weather and production updates (written by me).



In your email, please indicate Option 1 (public ), or Option 2 (private).

Written By

Photo of Dr. Barclay PolingDr. Barclay PolingFormer Professor and Extension Specialist, Strawberries and Muscadines (919) 515-5373 (Office) barclay_poling@ncsu.eduHorticultural Science - NC State University
Posted on Dec 19, 2014
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