Our target planting date for this experiment is May 6, 2016. Because day-neutrals can begin fruiting within 10 weeks of planting, you want to get them in the ground as early as possible. In our experiment we will have 60 small plots of 16 plants each. These plots will represent all of the mulch/low tunnel cover treatment combinations that we are trialing. Each combination will be replicated four times in the field to account for variation across the field.
We will use dormant bare-rooted strawberry plants of the variety 'Albion.' Plants will be in double staggered rows 12" apart, with an in-row spacing of 16". Dormant bare-rooted plants can be acquired from a nursery of your choice, but be sure to defer delivery until you are ready to plant or have adequate cold storage to hold them temporarily.
Plants will be covered with low-tunnels soon after planting, and we anticipate fruiting will begin in July and continue into the fall until first hard frost, peaking in August and September.
We will be trialling three bed mulches with this day-neutral / low-tunnel system: black plastic, white-on-black plastic, and bare/un-mulched.
Plastic mulches are 1.25mil.
Drip lines will be buried down the center of each bed. We are using 10mil drip with a 12" spacing, as it is recommended for multi-year use over standard 8mil drip tape. A centered drip line is necessary because strawberry plants will be in double staggered rows and an off centered drip line will interfere with planting.
We will be utilizing Dubois Agrinovation BROCH28-tunnels. These are made of galvanized steel and are 28"W x 39.5"H. They are sturdy and SUPER easy to install. Anchor pipes to hold secure the tunnels into the ground and bungee cords to hold the plastic covering the tunnel and keep it taut, are also available.
Low-tunnel plastic covering material
We will be using/evaluating four different plastics with differing transmission properties for their suitability in a low-tunnel strawberry production system. We will also maintain an uncovered treatment. Two of the plastics being utilized are experimental, and not yet commercially available, but the other two are: Tufflite IV (6mil) by Berry Plastics and KoolLite Plus (6mil) by Klerks-Hyplast. All are 6mil.
These are our supplies and our plan - we will provide updates when planting begins!
This project is supported by the New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station and Tunnel Berries, a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Specialty Crops Research Initiative grant titled "Optimizing Protected Culture for Berry Crops" in collaboration with the following universities: