Retractable cooling house allows for earlier start and later finish of strawberry season

From Fresh Plaza | 11 December 2023

Overview of strawberries in the U.S. market, complemented by charts from Agronometrics. Original published on December 11, 2023.

Producers of winter strawberries have always had difficulty achieving the highest window prices when growing in tunnels as well as on open fields due to the impact of hot weather. High temperatures have caused delays in transplanting in the late summer. In addition, the arrival of summer heat the following spring tends to result in an early end to the harvest.

“Over the last several years, we have proven at our demo facility in Mexico that a retractable cooling house has been effective at managing the heat,” says Richard Vollebregt of Cravo. “The cooling house has allowed us to transplant earlier in the summer and then extend the harvest several months longer than crops in tunnels or in the open field.”

strawberry prices by ori

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

For Cravo, the next logical step was to try using the same plants for a second season. In May 2023, one-year-old Murano and Albion plants were pruned. “The results have been fascinating,” shared Vollebregt. First of all, both varieties survived the 40°C temperatures and are extremely healthy. However, between the two varieties, there has been a big difference in the response and earliness of harvest. In their second season, the harvest of Murano strawberries started on September 28. It was an early harvest, about two months earlier than the local market. In addition, the plants grow large, California-sized fruit. Albion, on the other hand, was pruned in the same way.

“However, there is a dramatic difference in the number of flowers and fruits,” shared Vollebregt. Albion is showing a much later response to the first flowering, so it looks like Murano has shown a better response. Cravo will continue to provide updates on the progress of Murano and Albion.

In addition to Murano and Albion, the company is also doing trials this season with plantings in July, August, and September using Cocogreen and Coirtech substrate with the varieties with plantings in July, August, and September using Cocogreen and Coirtech substrate with the varieties Albion, Cabrillo, and Santa Maria.

The News in Charts is a collection of stories from the industry complemented by charts from Agronometrics to help better tell their story.

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