Profitable day-neutral strawberry cultivar and planting date combination for year-round strawberry fruit production in the Southern Cape, South Africa
South Africas strawberry production is currently limited to winter and spring production. Strawberry growers have not been able to extend the growing season for year-round strawberry production primarily due to cultivar and climatic limitations. Consumers world-wide, however, demand year-round supply of strawberries on their markets. Delayed planting dates and robust day-neutral cultivars may allow growers to extend the marketing season. To investigate the most profitable cultivar and planting date combination for season extension in Southern Cape, trials were conducted in George (latitude 34°5609S; longitude 22°2028, elevation 308 m). Three day-neutral strawberry cultivars, Monterey, San Andreas and Albion were planted at 30-day intervals from April to September for 3 seasons. They were planted in single layer, standard coir grow-bags at a density of 75,000 ha‑1. Analyses of variance were performed on vegetative growth stages (crown and runner formation), yield (flowering and fruit yield), fruit quality (fruit mass and total soluble solids (TSS)) and gross income using the R-Statistical Package software. Monterey significantly outperformed San Andreas which in turn significantly (p<0.05) outperformed Albion for crown number, flower number and gross income. San Andreas produced significantly fewer runners than Monterey and Albion. Albion produced significantly higher TSS followed by Monterey and San Andreas. Over all three cultivars there was no significant yield difference between planting dates, but August and September plantings had significantly more runners, flowers and higher gross income, while significantly smaller fruit and lower TSS. Monterey planted in April and May produced the highest margin above cost and brought earliness to the production window. Together with San Andreas planted in August, which extended the harvest season and with a similar margin above cost, it is possible to maximise profitability by extending both ends of the harvest season, while minimising hygiene costs associated with weekly runner removal.
Parehwa, P., Linsley-Noakes, G.C., Jordaan, J. and Pauw, J. (2021). Profitable day-neutral strawberry cultivar and planting date combination for year-round strawberry fruit production in the Southern Cape, South Africa. Acta Hortic. 1309, 261-268
Fragaria × ananassa, climate, planting time, season extension, gross income