And it begins! [2016]

And it begins! [2016]

Where we're at
Last week things got rolling at UNH's Woodman Farm! With our field ready to go, we were able to lay raised-beds for our day-neutral strawberries. The three mulch types we will be planting into  are: black mulch, white-on-black mulch, and bare beds. All are equipped with one line of drip down the center of the bed. 

Drip irrigation will be run on on these beds prior to planting dormant bare-rooted 'Albion' plants in each bed. Following planting, the plants will be irrigated again, and low tunnels will be constructed over them as soon as possible.

What is plasticulture?
A plastic mulch system, called "plasticulture," has many benefits over the traditional matted-row mulching system, including: earlier harvests and higher overall fruit yields, far superior weed control, faster / more efficient harvesting, cleaner fruit, and improved drainage and air flow. Plastic color impacts the environment around plants by either warming the soil (black), or slightly cooling it (white, white-on-black). Both effects could be useful for this system in our climate where spring and fall are cool and plants could benefit from warmth, and summer is hot and a reduction in soil temperature may be useful. The results from this study will help us provide recommendations on mulch color.

Some pictures from our preparation. Next will be planting!

Forming a raised bed without any mulch. This is our "bare" treatment with black and white in the background.

Forming a raised bed without any mulch. This is our "bare" treatment with black and white in the background.

This project is funded 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:

Albion plants arrived! [2016]

Albion plants arrived! [2016]

Supplies & the plan. [2016]

Supplies & the plan. [2016]