Vol 120 (2007): Proceedings of the Florida State Horticultural Society

Influence of soilless media, growing containers, and plug transplants on vegetative growth and fruit yield of 'Sweet Charlie' strawberry grown under protected culture

Daniel J. Cantliffe
University of Florida
Published December 1, 2007
  • pine bark,
  • perlite,
  • peat mix,
  • greenhouse,
  • polyethylene bags,
  • trough
  • ...More


'Sweet Charlie' strawberries (Fragaria xananassa Duch.) were grown in a passively ventilated greenhouse to evaluate the effects of soilless media (pine bark, peat-mix, and perlite), growing systems ("bag on gutter," "Polygal Hanging Bed-pack(R) trough," and "bag on ground"), and sources of plug (greenhouse-grown and field-grown) on yield and plant growth during two production seasons. Plants grown in perlite generally produced higher early marketable yields than those grown in peat-mix or pine bark. Plants grown in "bag on gutter" or "bag on ground" had larger crowns and more leaves than plants grown in "Polygal trough," during both seasons. Total marketable yields responded differentially to growing system and media during both seasons with higher yields generally from plants grown in "bags on gutter" with peat-mix (first season) and with peat-mix or perlite (second season) than other growing system media combinations. Field-grown plugs generally produced plants with larger crown diameters, more leaves, and higher total marketable yields than plants from greenhouse-grown plugs. Mean fruit weight was not influenced by media, growing system, or source of plug. Using pine bark as a soilless substrate in protected strawberry culture reduced media costs by 50% than for peat-mix and 42% than for perlite. "Polygal troughs" were easy to install, and the cost per season ($0.43 per meter) was comparable to that of polyethylene bags within a PVC (polyvinylchloride) gutter ($0.39 per meter). Fruits from plants grown in elevated containers were easier to harvest than from plants grown in containers on the ground. Therefore, protected strawberry culture using specialized growing containers such as "Polygal troughs," cost-effective soilless media such as pine bark, and field-grown plugs can enhance winter strawberry production in north-central Florida. Protected culture provides a practical commercial alternative to methyl-bromide dependent field production of strawberry.