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Plant Date, Yield, and Nitrogen Management for Strawberries in the Coastal Plain of Virginia
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Fresh market strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa) availability in mid to late -April signals the beginning of locally available fresh fruit and vegetables for the mid-Atlantic region. Of the 290 acres of fresh market strawberries grown in Virginia annually, the majority are produced in the coastal plain of Virginia using intensely managed annual hill production systems. The objective of this study was to evaluate the potential yield of strawberries, determine how yield components change with planting date and cultivar, and assess the fertility management techniques recommended by Virginia Cooperative Extension’s Commercial Vegetable Production Guide for strawberries. June-bearing cultivars ‘Camarosa’ and ‘Chandler’ were grown in Painter, Virginia during the 2012-2013 season. Three planting dates (Sept. 21, 28, and Oct. 5) were assessed while evaluating the cultivars performance. Petiole nitrate-N readings and leaf tissue were collected at initial flower and mid-flower to evaluate the accepted fertigation recommendations. The cultivar trial yielded between 7,205 – 21,393 lbs./acre. Overall, ‘Camarosa’ yielded highest with the early planting date (Sept. 21; 21,393 lbs./acre). As the planting dates moved later into the fall, ‘Camarosa’ lost yield while the yield for ‘Chandler’ remained constant and averaged 9,705 lbs./acre. Harvest pick data also indicated that ‘Camarosa’ out performs ‘Chandler’ both early and late in the season for berry number and yield. Petiole nitrate-N and leaf tissue data suggested that excess N fertilization leads to lower yields. In conclusion, strawberry cultivar ‘Camarosa’ should be a standard for farmer’s in the mid-Atlantic and planted late to mid-September while continuously monitoring and adjusting N fertility as needed.