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Enhancing the Production of Certified Strawberry Nursery Stocks in the San Luis Valley


Project Leaders: Phil and Nina Smartt, Blue Sky Farms, Monte Vista, CO

Technical Advisor: Robert Davidson, CSU Cooperative Extension Service, Center, Colorado

Project Years: 2002, 2003

Summary of 2003 Annual Report

The key to the growth of certified strawberry nursery stocks in the San Luis Valley is fine tuning production practices. These practices include appropriate soil preparation and fumigation, proper fertility management, early planting dates and, in conjunction with those early planting dates, use of row coverings to prevent freezing damage to mother plants. The objectives of this project were two fold; to improve production of nursery stocks (runners) by building upon the results from 2002 and, to help develop a more effective marketing strategy for Colorado certified strawberries. Five different row cover systems were applied and removed at two different time frames during the season. A market survey was conducted to determine which attributes are most significant to commercial producers. Additionally, a web site is being established for Blue Sky Farms and, personal visits to the primary marketing area, Florida , were conducted to communicate with potential buyers. Results from the plots indicate that none of the row cover treatments significantly increased runner production. However, all treatments did show increased vigor ratings when compared with the control. Also, two treatments, plastic tunnels with hoops and spun row covers with two layers, did show a trend for increased production with 26% and 14% more runners respectively. In general, the other treatments tended to show higher production levels than the controls. A marketing survey was conducted during personal visits with buyers in February. Through these contacts and with the help of University of Florida personnel and two consultants, and through improved production strategies partially developed from the previous year's project, seven new and one previous buyer purchased over 300,000 nursery stocks from Blue Sky Farms in 2003 at a gross value of $29,000.

Click here for the full text of the 2003 Annual Report (Word Document).

Colorado State University College of Agricultural Sciences Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture