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Strawberries and Caneberries
University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources Agriculture and Natural Resources Blogs
SUN, SEP 25 2022
by Eric Brennan
on November 18, 2017 at 5:48 AM
Thanks for this interesting post Mark. I always learn something good here. The last comment about organic growers using longer supplemental chilling got me thinking. At the USDA-ARS organic research program, we only plant strawberries every 4 years with lots of cover crops during the off years to try to build and maintain soil health or quality and make the soil hospitable to the strawberries. Thus far this has worked really well for us. I wonder if there are any simple and reliable measurements of the soil to help growers know in advance if their soil is one where the longer supplemental chilling is needed. I also wonder if longer suppl. chilling is needed on sandy than clay soils. Thanks for any thoughts on this.
by Mark Bolda
on January 3, 2018 at 2:37 PM
Hi Eric, this is actually a really good question. Generally speaking, local organic growers have tended towards lengthening their chill times to pump up plant vigor for a soil which is not as easy to grow in, but as you point out there are soils which, while not fumigated, are managed in a way (rotation, soil amendments, low pathogen and weed load), present a pretty darn good growing environment already.  
I'd say it's an open question, but easily tested. On a decently managed organic soil, I'd look to test three chill lengths, and depending on the variety, might want to look at one week, two weeks and three weeks of chill and test the plant response through measurements of vigor and production.  
If you are game we should look into it.
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