Environ. Horticulture, Pears, Cherries, and Viticulture
University of California
Environ. Horticulture, Pears, Cherries, and Viticulture

Strawberries

Cold Snap Under Way for the Central Coast - What to do on the Berry Side

We have a stretch of unusually cold weather, including freezing temperatures at night, underway currently on the Central Coast, and it has attracted a lot of attention.  

Being originally from Wisconsin, it always slays me what people here think of as cold.  I was up in Cupertino this morning, and overheard a women exclaiming into her phone that it was so cold that she was wearing two jackets!! Ever hear of a snowmobile suit, longjohns or a ski mask?  I used to go running in -10 degree weather, and fished through the ice all day long in temperatures even colder. Naah, 25 degrees above zero isn't cold my friends.  

Regardless, I should provide some insight to you here concerning these upcoming freezing temperatures and what they could do, particularly in the case of strawberries, which in most places around the Bay have started to really grow and in some case produce a lot of fruit already.

Strawberries come from temperate regions of the world and can handle freezing temperatures in due course. However, once the plants are actively growing like they are here now, that does present some difficulties which growers and managers can take some steps to address.

Once the strawberry plant has broken dormancy, cold temperatures no longer offer any enhancement in the way of cold conditioning (what many of us refer to as chill), and therefore we shouldn't be seeing any extra plant vigor or fruiting from these freezes. 

To the contrary, while these early spring freezes will normally not kill strawberry plants here on the Central Coast they nevertheless present a setback to fruiting because of the danger they present to sensitive plant parts. The core of the strawberry plant, which is the crown and is a thick, fleshy organ full of water and if correctly planted is mostly submerged below the surface of the soil, is well protected.   Not so with flowers and on occasion younger leaves, which are fully exposed to the cold and can die back in a hard freeze.  Even if a flower is not killed outright by below freezing temperatures, pollination has a good probability of being affected and subsequent fruit will be misshapen.

Growers can take measures to mitigate the damage of freezes to strawberries. If one is concerned about an upcoming freeze, taking the step to saturate the bed full of water via the drip irrigation before the frost is expected can do a lot. Having the bed full of water accomplishes two things; the first is that the irrigation water being well above freezing will insulate the bed, and second the cells of plant in a well watered condition will become turgid with liquid and this to some measure protects them as well against freezing.

 

 

Posted on Monday, February 19, 2018 at 5:16 PM

2018 Annual Meeting Presentations Now Posted

Still basking in the glow of having run a really good meeting last week.  Great presentations with lots of new information presented clearly so everybody could understand.

Running a meeting like this is not something one can do alone!  I owe the world to my Staff Research Associate Monise Sheehan, Sofia Hernandez and the Grower Education Team of the California Strawberrry Commission, in particular David McLaughlin, for taking on some pretty intimidating logistics yet making seem so easy.  Great job everybody and so very much appreciated!

For those of you who like to follow up on something you may have missed in a presentation, or just weren't there, I'm posting the powerpoints of the presentations.   

 

Strawberry N management 2018 final
Strawberry N management 2018 final

Brennan - Discussion of Synthetic Nitrogen in Organic Agriculture
Brennan - Discussion of Synthetic Nitrogen in Organic Agriculture

2018 Strawberry Meeting - CAC Schools presentation
2018 Strawberry Meeting - CAC Schools presentation

Mark B. - Fume alt + LBAM
Mark B. - Fume alt + LBAM

Peter H - Fusarium, ASG mtg 2018 final
Peter H - Fusarium, ASG mtg 2018 final

Oleg Strawberry Meet doc
Oleg Strawberry Meet doc

Soil Amendments and Strawberry
Soil Amendments and Strawberry

Posted on Tuesday, February 6, 2018 at 9:50 AM

First Strawberries of the Year - Oh Yeeaah

Had a friend deliver two clamshells of fresh picked berries from his farm yesterday.  It's early February, so this is pretty early.  Fully ripe, plump and sweetened by the sun.  AWESOME flavor!

Anybody want to venture a guess from where these come?

Posted on Monday, February 5, 2018 at 10:03 AM

A Thought on the Integration of Automation in Berries

Just started reading the book Machine Platform Crowd which is about the second phase of this machine age.

Great read, but what is striking is the summary of electrification and its initial slow uptake in factories. Why did something so obviously superior to coal fired steam power not get adopted the instant it was introduced?

There were actually a number of reasons. The adoption of electricity in factories was impeded by manufacturers who were reluctant leave to behind what they already were familiar with and knew well, and at the time electricity was only a marginally superior to coal anyway.

The real gains from electrification were to be made only when some manufacturers stopped just replacing steam engines with electric motors and redesigned the entire system - by placing electric motors on the conveyor belts, assembly lines and overhead cranes -  and took full advantage of the new technology.  The full potential of electricity now realized brought to bear huge advantages in price of production and flexibility, saturating the market with goods and hammering less able competition into the ground.

A lucid reading of the above should make us realize in the berry industry that in fact we are in a similar dilemma with our fitful advance on integrating automation into our agriculture. Really profitable automation simply doesn't mean replacing people with machines in the same fields as before.  If we learn our lesson well from the transition to electricity from steam, we probably have to look at changing a lot about the production system itself.

 

Posted on Thursday, January 18, 2018 at 8:19 AM

Status of Diagnostic Samples at UCCE Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties

With the retirement of Steve Koike on January 2, 2018, there may be some confusion regarding submission of plant samples to the UCCE Monterey County office for diagnostic services. Steve Koike addressed all plant disease samples that were submitted to our office for many years; however, a percent of the samples submitted for plant disease diagnosis were abiotic issues that were addressed by other advisors. UCCE Monterey County will continue to diagnose abiotic issues on vegetables (Richard Smith) and grapes (Larry Bettiga). Strawberry and caneberry abiotic issues should be directed to Mark Bolda at the UCCE Santa Cruz County office in Watsonville. We are willing to look at any samples you may have and can provide guidance on whether issues are biotic or need further confirmation by a plant pathology laboratory.

Posted on Thursday, January 4, 2018 at 11:59 AM

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