This past season, seven short-day varieties, Camino Real, Chandler, Flavorfest, Keepsake, Merced, Rocco, and Ruby June and three, day-neutral varieties- Albion, San Andreas and Sweet Ann, were evaluated in this study.
The day-neutral varieties were evaluated for their bearing capacity in spring and early summer season. All varieties were transplanted on Oct 4, 2019, in an experimental design both inside the high tunnel, and in open-field neighboring the high tunnel at the Hampton Roads Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Virginia Beach. The plug plants of all varieties except Flavorfest and Keepsake came from Aaron’s Creek Farm in Buffalo Junction, VA. Flavorfest and Keepsake came from a nursery in New Jersey. Open field plots were harvested twice per week from Apr 10, 2019, to June 18, 2019. High tunnel plots were harvested from Jan 12, 2019, to June 18, 2019. The average berry diameter of a random subsample of five marketable fruit per plot was recorded once per week per variety. Below are the key findings so far from the study:
- Rocco, Sweet Ann, and Chandler cultivars had the highest total yield in the open field, while most cultivars except Albion, Flavorfest, and Keepsake had good yield in the high tunnel (Tables 1 and 2). Both Flavorfest and Keepsake had poor plant growth.
- The day-neutral cultivars had higher fruit diameter than short-day cultivars in the high tunnel.
- Highest monthly yield under both production systems was in May for all cultivars.
- Percent marketable for each cultivar was higher in open-field than in the high tunnel, which indicates more pest management practices are required in high tunnel.