Growing certified organic strawberries can be challenging. Managing weeds without the help of herbicides is perhaps the biggest challenge with organic production. One approach that is sometimes used by organic growers is to use plasticulture and fall planted plugs for establishing beds instead of traditional bare root spring planted matted row systems.
In 2018 Red Fire Farm received a SARE farmer grant in order to compare plasticulture vs matted row systems, and in particular to see if there are viable ways to manipulate the plasticulture system in order to stagger some of the ripening to occur during the second half of June and early July, which is a time of year that MA consumers and Pick Your Own customers expect strawberries to be in season and abundant.
In 2018 we established beds of strawberries on both plastic mulched beds and also matted row beds on bare ground for comparison, using some unique varieties like ‘Cleary’, ‘Fronteras’, ‘Flavorfest’, ‘Camino Real’, ‘Ruby June’, ‘AC Valley Sunset’ & comparing these to the standard northeastern plasticulture variety ‘Chandler’ and the standard matted row variety ‘Jewel’.
We also have trials of silver & white plastic mulch to compare with black plastic, and have several treatments of when row covers were installed and removed, and straw used to delay spring growth and flowering in some trials also.
On Thursday June 20th 5:30-8 PM we will hold a twilight tour at Red Fire Farm, 184 Meadow Rd., Montague MA to discuss the preliminary results of these trials, observe the different treatments in the field, and sample the fruit flavor of the various varieties (which should be at peak ripening). Please join us for this free tour, learn something new about growing strawberries.
Light refreshments will be provided!
This event is free unless you wish to purchase pizza/salad/beverage for $10. Pizza toppings and salad made from Red Fire Farm grown veggies.
Please RSVP if you wish to purchase food for planning purposes by emailing the UMass Fruit Team at firstname.lastname@example.org