Florida’s strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa Duch) production system is mainly dependent on short-day cultivars produced as bare-root (BR) transplants, which are high-yielding and low-cost options for Florida growers. The strawberry industry in Florida is greatly dependent on early yield (mid-November, early December). Therefore, Florida growers must secure rapid establishment of the BR transplants and for that reason, high volumes of irrigation water are applied to reduce air temperature around plant crowns and mitigate desiccation. This practice accounts for nearly 14.7 million m3 of irrigation water between mid-September and early October. Several alternatives are available to growers to reduce irrigation water for establishment. One of those alternatives suggests replacing BR transplants for actively growing strawberry plugs (SPs). However, the higher price of SP transplants seems to be the main limitation for their implementation. Alternately, growers could explore the possibility of introducing intermittent irrigation or low-volume sprinklers into their system to establish BR transplants. An inexpensive option, based on a large body of research, would be the application of crop protectants against excessive sun radiation, which could reduce irrigation water for establishment by up to 30%. Despite the suggested alternatives, there is still a great deal of work needed to increase grower’s confidence in these technologies.
Part of the book: Natural Resources Management and Biological Sciences