An Introductory Guide to Strawberry Plasticulture

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The primary purpose of this guide to give an overview of the “Strawberry Plasticulture Production System” that is now the main commercial growing system for North Carolina and other states in the Mid-South. “Strawberry Plasticulture” is technically the annual hill training system in which “green” strawberry transplants (fresh dug plants or plugs) are planted in early fall in double rows at densities of approximately 15,000 to 17,500 plants/acre on methyl bromide fumigated, raised beds that are covered with black plastic mulch. It is a relatively recent production technology for our region as it was only first introduced to the Mid-South by researchers at NC State University in the early 1980s. Strawberry plasticulture has now virtually replaced the older “matted row” system in our seven-state region. A single acre of strawberry plasticulture can be 2 ½ times as productive as an acre of bare-ground matted-row production, but, it is also a production system that is far more management-intensive than matted-row. There is considerably less margin for error in regards to soil, crop, pest, frost/freeze and market management decisions and operations.

E. Barclay Poling
North Carolina State University