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Improved Sustainability through Novel Water Management Strategies for Strawberry Transplant Establishment in Florida, United States

Author(s): Bielinski M. Santos | Craig D. Stanley | Alicia J. Whidden | Teresa P. Salame-Donoso | Vance M. Whitaker | Ixchel M. Hernandez-Ochoa | Pei-Wen Huang | Emmanuel A. Torres-Quezada

Journal: Agronomy (Basel)
ISSN 2073-4395

Volume: 2;
Issue: 4;
Start page: 312;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: Fragaria &#215 | ananassa | freeze protection | sprinkler irrigation | best management practices | cold weather | kaolin clay | plug transplants

Establishing bare-root transplants in Florida, United States, is an inefficient water-consuming activity. Between 3500 and 5500 m3/ha are applied with sprinkler irrigation to lower temperatures around the transplant crown and aid early root development, but more than 97% of the water volume runs off the polyethylene-covered beds. Research has been conducted to evaluate the feasibility of producing containerized (plug) short-day cultivar transplants under Florida conditions, the effect of continuous and intermittent low-volume sprinklers on transplant establishment and the use of kaolin clay to reduce stress on young transplants. Research results demonstrated that growers may have alternatives to reduce water use and pumping costs during strawberry transplant establishment by the following: (a) plug transplants can be produced from mother plants from Florida’s subtropical weather without chilling conditioning and still be competitive in the winter market; (b) using continuous and intermittent low-volume sprinkler irrigation saves between 16% and 33% of the water volumes for strawberry establishment; and (c) using kaolin clay showed to be a low-cost (US$63/ha plus application costs) investment to reduce irrigation volumes by at least 30%.
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