Strawberries are an important crop grown in the U.S, producing 1.12 million tons of strawberries in 2019. Most production of strawberries in the U.S. is done in open fields. Recently U.S. growers are confronting challenges in open field production. In California, where more than 90% of the total strawberry production is done, annual acreage for strawberries is getting lower due to prolonged drought periods in the field; also, dry weather is increasing pests, making it challenging to manage and control diseases. Another challenge of U.S. production is the emergence of strong competitors in the strawberry market, Mexico and China.
Controlled environment structures and strategies using hydroponic systems in strawberry production could help to address the current challenges in U.S. open field production; additionally, due to the increase in consumer demand for locally grown products, local growers in the U.S. have noticed the opportunity of achieving premium price during off-seasons by producing locally grown strawberries in greenhouses. Greenhouse production can be an option to increase the strawberry production window in areas where we currently grow this crop. It can also be a system to use in order to increase overall production across the U.S. In addition, by managing the environment inside a greenhouse it is not only possible to increase production but also quality.
Temperature can have a strong impact on strawberry flavor. Low temperature is recommended during time in order to improve flavor in strawberry. When night temperature increases exceeding 16-18°C (60-65°F), titratable acidity increases, reducing the sugar-acid ratio and affecting strawberry flavor.
Strawberries are definitely not an easy crop and CEA technologies can always help us to provide ideal conditions to improve production window, yield per area and fruit quality. Growers are finding out the great benefits of growing strawberries using the help of CEA. This is the reason why now hydroponic greenhouse production of strawberries is growing rapidly across the U.S.
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