Use of low tunnels to improve the productivity of day-neutral strawberry plants under the Québec climatic conditions
In Québec, Canada, field strawberries, produced from June to September, have the greatest market value. However, the climatic conditions during this period (especially rainfall) are frequently suboptimal for strawberry production. Covering strawberries with low tunnels is an innovative and an interesting technique, which had never been studied for strawberries production in Canada. Low tunnels protect crops from the rain and also against the chilling stress caused often by low temperatures at in the spring and fall. The other advantage of using this technique is the prolongation of the picking period by 2 to 3 weeks (until the beginning of October) and when the market value is at its best. An experiment was conducted on Île d'Orléans, Québec, Canada to study the use of low tunnel on the day-neutral cultivar 'Seascape' in comparison with open field. We determined the effects of different polyethylene (PE) films (clear or thermal) with different aeration conditions (0, 1 and 2%) on growth, yield and quality of fruits. Low tunnels increased inside air temperature during cold weather conditions (including periods of frost). An improvement in growth, yield and quality of strawberries was measured under low tunnels. They can extend the production period by offering 1.7 to 3 times more marketable yields in the fall. The effects of low tunnels are much more important during cool and rainy seasons. The PE films had no significant difference for all measured parameters.
Van Sterthem, A., Desjardins, Y., Gauthier, L., Medina, Y. and Gosselin, A. (2017). Use of low tunnels to improve the productivity of day-neutral strawberry plants under the Québec climatic conditions. Acta Hortic. 1156, 555-562
heat gain, chilling stress, polyethylene films, low temperature, rainfall, unmarketable yield