Grower Shares Personal Pointers and Observations on Cut-Off Plants (Aug. 13, 2016)
HIGH ELEVATION WESTERN CUT-OFFS – REFLECTIONS & CONSIDERATIONS – 8/7/16
<These reflections and considerations on using Cut-offs have been provided by Clyde Gurosik, N. Augusta, SC>
This type of plant can be an excellent plant source for primary production or an excellent source of replants where planting dates of Oct 10th to Oct 30th are normally feasible. Although they are bare root plants, they can be established with significantly less watering than a typical bare root plant. Watering requirements are usually similar to those for establishing a plug plant.
All non-dormant strawberry plants are best established in firm beds that have had “reasonable moisture levels established ACROSS THE BEDS several days prior to planting.” That is best established by about 4 hours of drip irrigation, about 3 days prior to planting to allow uniform wetting.
If a cutoff is planted as a replant in a wet bed, it can be established with as little as 20 total hours of evaporative cooling. If planted to a wetted bed as primary production, it should be evaporatively cooled within 1 hour of planting until 7 p.m. the 1st day, then 9-6 the 2nd day, 10-5 the 3rd day, then 11-4 for a couple more days. This assumes hot, sunny planting conditions. It is highly recommended that after the initial 3 day wetting period, ALL plants be individually checked for settling, and adjusted or covered as needed, early or late in the day when further wetting isn’t needed. That should result in a 99+% plant stand of very uniform plants. Prior to the onset of cold winter weather all plants should be rechecked to assure “TIGHT PLANT CROWN-GROUND CONTACT”, as elevated unprotected crowns will be damaged unless corrected and properly GROUND TEMPERATURE PROTECTED from wind desiccation.
Just as with any bare root plant, FRESHNESS, properly cooled transport/storage, and prompt professional planting are essential to success.
Cut-off plants tend to be consistent, longer term producers with a more uniform harvest than bare root or plug plants. They don’t require costly winter cleaning, because they don’t come with excessive old “LUGGAGE” that all dies during winter. High elevation western nurseries actually “SORT & GRADE THE PLANTS AND TRIM THE ROOTS UNIFORMLY”. The as- delivered plants are more CONSISTENT with expected standards of crown diameter, root length, root number and root mass. Eastern cut-offs have been extensively tested and simply can NOT build up the carbohydrate reserves necessary to grow off properly by the time needed for planting.
History has clearly shown that regular bare root plants or plugs with insufficient root number, root mass and small weak crowns are UNLIKELY to produce even a break even crop. Nurseries really should CULL them vs shipping just about anything that is dug. Many growers have performed time consuming, expensive culling and root pruning in the fields, delaying planting and turning the Eastern nursery bargain priced, bare-root plants into a NON-BARGAIN, that is also less productive.
SINCE there is really NO SUCH THING as “CERTIFIED PRODUCTION PLANTS”, growers should pay particular attention to whether plants were produced with clean, underground sources of irrigation in a clean, cold, low humidity remote environment, (LIKE THE HIGH SIERRAS), or just watered out of a rain swollen creek or potentially disease contaminated, above ground run-off pond in close proximity to other producers. They should also check if they were produced in an environment prone to thunderstorms, tropical storms, hurricanes, and areas known to have historical problems with Anthracnose, viruses, or multiplier disease transmission. Those devastating DISEASES may be latent and have FREQUENTLY been totally missed by nurseries and plant inspectors. Most nurseries have cleverly worded sales contracts to allow shipment of about anything they produce and NONE will list CERTIFIED PLANTS ANYMORE, since they don’t exist as affordable production plants. Every new and experienced strawberry farmer really needs to think seriously about the info in this paragraph, and then immediately PERSONALLY INSPECT their plant shipment upon arrival, if not sooner. Hope this info is helpful.
Editor’s note: I greatly appreciate Clyde’s willingness to share his pointers and personal observations with cut-offs. I will be discussing cut-offs at the Central Piedmont Pre-plant meeting on Aug. 25 in Greensboro Program Guilford Co Aug 25 2016 – revision 1