Reminder: Strawberry Variety Showcase Next Week on Thursday, April 20 (Posted 2pm, 4/12/17)

— Written By Barclay Poling

Fig. 1. Field map showing some of the different varieties and Advanced Selections from Lassen Canyon Breeding. Please join us on Thursday, April 20th, at 1:30 p.m. in Faison, NC (not far from Mt. Olive), for a Strawberry Variety and Advanced Selection Showcase Twilight Tour April 20 2017.rev 2. Following the field tour in Faison, everyone is invited to a Twilight Tour and BBQ just up the road in the area of Wilson, NC.

The exact address for the late afternoon/early evening Twilight Tour and BBQ event is:  5451 Lindsey Rd, Elm City, NC 27822. This is the location of Jim Driver’s and Cortney Batten’s research farm called Biological Applied Research. We are expecting a good group, including a number of growers who will be coming down from VA Beach area.

The only thing we ask is that you simply send Cortney Batten a text (919-390-8190) or email: bar.cortney.driver@gmail.com to let her know you plan to be there for the BBQ, as we need to tell the caterer by Tuesday, April 18th, how many folks to expect?

Good afternoon,

This is just a quick reminder that there will be a STRAWBERRY VARIETY SHOWCASE at Cottle Farms and Nursery in Faison, NC, next Thursday (April 20) at 1:30 p.m. The location is very easy to find! Here is the EXACT ADDRESS:  Cottle Strawberry Nursery, 2488 NC-403 Highway, Faison, NC 28341). A lot of you already know this location. We will have a large strawberry sign on Highway 403 so you will know just where to enter from Hwy 403. You will have to drive back a little ways down a dirt lane (and past large irrigation pond) to reach our research plots on top of the “Strawberry Hill.”

Background about this trial:

  • Sponsors:  Lassen Canyon Strawberry Nursery, Redding, CA; Cottle Farms, Faison, NC; and Biological Applied Research, Elm City, NC
  • Planted:  Oct. 12, 2016 (just after Hurricane Matthew)
  • No. of Varieties:  30
  • No. of Selections: 100 from Lassen Canyon; and, 2 selections from NCSU (NC10-156 and NC10-038)
  • No. of Harvests so far:  four (3/27, 3/30, 4/3, 4/7)
  • How bad were the freezes of March 14-17? As Ron Cottle said in April NCSA newsletter it was a “challenge”
  • You will be able to see how much each selection and variety is producing on 4/20 – we will pick that morning and leave buckets right in the plots for your observation and tasting!
  • The Lassen breeder, Jim Bagdasarian, will be flying in from CA to join us!

This Friday (April 14), I will be back down in Faison harvesting our 139 research plots with Whit Jones, former Extension Agent, Duplin. We are both retired now, and have truly enjoyed working on this project with Ron Cottle and Lassen Canyon. It has been quite an interesting journey for us all. We planted the field just after Hurricane Matthew on October 12th. I will never forget how nervous we all were that day and week, as there was still no power on the morning of Oct-12! But, thank goodness the power came on at noon on Oct-12,  just in time to irrigate-in all the cut-offs (“cuts”) that we had  just planted (Fig. 2). We were all fascinated to see several of the Lassen Canyon selections (with yellow tags), producing flowers by as early as October 22nd (Fig. 3).

If you do get there a little early on April 20, there is a good chance you will also be able to meet the Lassen Canyon breeder, Jim Bagdasarian. This will be his first opportunity to see the NC trial in Faison. Jim has earned a reputation for varieties that not only have excellent berry size (Fig. 7), but also have wonderful flavor (Fig. 8).

Don’t forget we will also be raffling off an Omega Digital Thermometer at the Twilight Tour and BBQ.

Fig. 2. Within minutes of our completing transplanting, the power came on so we could then irrigate-in the new crop of cut-offs and plugs.

Fig. 3. Just 10 days after planted, a half dozen or more of the Lassen day-neutral selections were pushing flowers – we actually examined several of these for late fall cropping potential. Ron Cottle (Fig. 4) will likely have something to say about his interest in fall fruiting potential. On April 20th, we will also be presenting data for the first time from our first 5 harvests this season,  and Whit Jones and I will be making comments on what we think might be the very best selections from the trial after the first 6 harvests.

Fig. 4. Ron Cottle discussing his interest in Lassen’s day-neutral material on Dec. 5, 2016.

Ron Cottle made this recent comment about the FREEZE of Mid-March: “”THE FREEZE wow that was definitely a challenge. I have about 60 acres of strawberries, 40 acres I double covered with 1.2oz covers. They came through pretty good may have lost 15% of the open blooms all green and red fruit was fine. 14 acres I only had a single cover on lost larger percent of blooms maybe around 25% lost some small green fruit but for the most part it was ok. Red fruit was fine. I was really surprised just how good they turned out under the single row cover of 1.2oz. I had 6 acres without covers and I decided not to irrigate because of the wind speed. Lost all the fruit, and flowers. Striped all the dead fruit and flowers off plants. The plants look good and have now begin to flower again.”   The Strawberry Grower, April 2017, NC Strawberry Assn.

Fig. 5. As we take data on each of the varieties and selections we record berry counts and harvest weights. In this case, for Advanced Selection 131T9, I wrote down a berry count of 61 and plot weight of 1818 grams. That represents an average berry weight of 29.8 grams (over 1 ounce), and it  is very common with the Lassen material to see selections with good berry size (Fig. 6).

Fig. 6. A few berries of 131T9 (harvest was done on Monday March 27, and photo on March 28). We left berries out over night in warehouse at room temperature to evaluate berry darkening. Darkening can be a serious problem in Camino Real, as well as Camarosa! This particular selection kept a bright color! Now, the question remains: does 131T9 have the whole package? ON APRIL 20th, Whit Jones and I will be discussing our top selections from the trial for EARLY HARVEST SEASON (March 27 – April 17). We will actually harvest the morning of the Variety Showcase, and you will see how many buckets were picked from each of the plots! Come early, and we’ll let you pick!

Fig. 7. This particular selection has exceptional berry size!

Fig. 8. Photo of Ruby June (bred by Jim Bagdasarian) that was taken by me in Watsonville, CA, on June 13, 2016. Of course, we have been testing Ruby June in this region since the 2014-2015 season, and you will be able to see Ruby June under our growing conditions on April 20th at both Cottle Farms, as well as in Elm City (where the Twilight Tour and BBQ are being held that late afternoon/early evening).