In 2017, Oregon Strawberry Commission collaborated to conduct on-farm trials and consumer taste tests of promising day neutral and june bearing selections. The goal was to give fresh market growers the information needed to choose varieties that fit both farm needs and consumer preferences.
June bearing varieties tested: Hood (as standard), Charm, Marys Peak, and Puget Crimson.
Day neutral varieties tested: Sweet Ann, Seascape, Aromas, and Albion (as standard).
Northwest Berry Foundation managed the in-field trials and evaluations of the selections. The evaluations were focused on characteristics important to growers, such as plant vigor, yield, health, and pest and disease resistance. Check out the videos below for assessments of the day neutral and june bearing selections.
Evaluations of Four Promising Day Neutral Varieties
Evaluations of Four June Bearing Strawberry Varieties
Consumer Taste Tests:
After fruit was evaluated in the fields and harvested, Oregon State University used the berries in consumer taste tests at its Food Innovation Center and several New Seasons Market locations. The taste tests provided information on consumer preferences, helping researchers determine purchase intent and quality ratings based on the strawberry samples. See in-depth information on how consumers ranked the selections.
Information on more varieties from OSU Extension Service: Strawberry Cultivars for Western Oregon and Washington
Learn more about land and soil preparation for Oregon Fresh Market Strawberries. Includes tips for tunnel production & bed shaping for fresh strawberries.
Tunnel Production and Bed Shaping for Fresh Strawberries
Day Neutrals Land and Soil Preparation
- Take soil samples. Take soil samples and have them analyzed by a laboratory. It’s important to know what your basic nutrient levels are so that you can amend for deficiencies in macro- or micronutrients. Do this before you plant.
- Amend. Based on your soil sample test results, correct any deficiencies with a pre-plant fertilizer. Washington State University recommends a pre-plant application of 60-80 lb of nitrogen per acre, along with a similar amount of potassium. Recommendations indicate that a soil pH should be 5.4 – 6.5.
- Work the ground. It’s necessary to work the soil enough so it becomes a fine texture, much the same as if you were direct seeding.
- Form the beds. Specialized equipment will be needed to shape the beds and lay the plastic. Growers in the Willamette Valley area have found it helpful to modify pre-made equipment or fabricate their own. You need at least 10-12 inch high beds. A typical bed top is about 24-36 inches wide. Make sure that the plastic mulch rolls you use, work with the bed shaper width. A typical width of plastic is about 56 inches. The ‘extra’ plastic lays against the sides of the beds and is pulled taut by heaped soil.
- Lay the drip tape and plastic mulch. The plastic mulch and drip tape should be applied immediately after bed-shaping so that beds do not erode, which occurs rapidly when left exposed to rainfall. Some equipment that exists does the drip tape and plastic mulch laying together. Others do them separately. Make sure to lay the drip tape under the plastic.
June-Bearers Land and Soil Preparation
- Take soil samples. Take soil samples and have them analyzed by a laboratory. It’s important to know what your basic nutrient levels are so that you can amend for deficiencies in macro- or micronutrients. Do this before you plant. Recommendations indicate that a soil pH should be somewhere between 5.4 and 6.5.
- Work the ground. Avoid choosing ground that is heavy clay. Well-drained sandy-loam to loamy-silt soil is best. You will likely need to disc, plow, dixon harrow, and rototill your land. A subsurface drainage system may be necessary if your soils do not drain well. Waterlogged soils can lead to root rot.
- Amend. Based on your soil sample test results, you will want to correct any deficiencies with amendments and then apply a pre-plant fertilizer.
Additional resource: Nutrient Management of Berry Crops in Oregon (Oregon State University). Recommendations for strawberries are for June-bearing plants, so adjustments may be needed for day neutrals.
Mid-Late Season Pest Management for Day Neutral Strawberries
- Appearance: Adult thrips are slender, small insects about .03 inch (0.8 mm). Adults have feathery wings and vary in color from yellow to dark brown, and nymphs are white or yellowish with small dark eyes.
- Impact: Thrips feed on strawberry blossoms, causing the stigmas and anthers to turn brown and wither prematurely, but not before fertilization has occurred. As fruit develops, it can cause a russeting (Type I bronzing) of the fruit around the cap.
- Management and More Information: See the Pacific Northwest Insect Management Handbook’s entry on thrips.
- Appearance: Adults are .25 to .5 inches long, oval, and rather flattened. Adults are greenish to brownish and have a distinct yellow or pale green “V” shape on their backs. Immature forms are pale green and look like an aphid but move more quickly. Nymphs are wingless, green, and characterized by five black dots on the back.
- Impact: Lygus feeds on buds, bloom, and immature fruits, resulting in deformed fruits (cat-facing), which reduces yield and fruit quality.
- Management and more information: See the Pacific Northwest Insect Management Handbook’s entry on lygus.
- Appearance: SWD are small (2-3 mm) with red eyes. SWD male flies have a black spot on the tip of each wing and two leg bands on each front leg. The female has a large serrated ovipositor that can penetrate soft-skinned fruit, such as berries and stone fruit.
- Impact: Female SWD can lay up to three eggs at a time and several hundred in her lifetime. Eggs hatch soon into larvae (small white maggots) that feed inside the fruit, causing fruit flesh to soften and discolor. Fruit surface will show depressions that leak fruit fluids.
- Management and more information: See the Pacific Northwest Insect Management Handbook’s entry on Spotted-wing Drosophila.
Twospotted Spider Mite:
- Appearance: Adults are 2- 3 mm long, have eight legs, and are tan or greenish with a dark spot on each side of their backs. They are often found on the underside of leaves in webbing.]
- Impact: Their feeding reduces plant vigor and may cause leaves to turn brown, curl and drop off prematurely, which reduces yield.
- Management and more information: See the Pacific Northwest Insect Management Handbooks entry on Twospotted spider mites.
Post-Harvest Handling of Fresh Market Strawberries
Think about all the steps you take from field to shelf in order to ensure that you’re sending the best quality of berries to market.
- Field Packing: Pick directly into the final package. It reduces handling and associated damage and also reduces labor costs.
- From Field to Packing Shed: Make sure that the berries are being transported using a vehicle that ensures a smooth ride. This will decrease bruising. Keep the berries shaded if it’s a long trip.
- At the Packing Shed: Create a custom line for packing that is efficient, have an easy access loading dock, and have a roof that provides protection from the elements.
- Berry Temperature: The optimum temperature for maintaining fresh strawberries is 0 +/- 0.5C (32 +/- 1F).
Notes on Cooling
- Marketability: Cooling is the single most important factor for maintaining quality. Cooling delays of 2, 4, 6, or 8 hours reduces marketability by 20, 37, 50, or 70%, respectively, after holding the fruit at 77F. The longer you wait to cool your berries, the less marketable they become.
- Cooling Systems: The most widely used commercial method to precool berries is forced-air cooling. Cold air is forced to move rapidly through the containers (versus around the containers as in room cooling), allowing the cold air to directly contact the warm berries. Forced-air cooling is typically 75-90% faster at cooling than room cooling.
- Cooling and temperature management of strawberries. Jennifer DeEll. Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs. 2005.
- Recommendations for maintaining postharvest quality. UC Davis.
Learn more about the basics of marketing fresh strawberries and how that differs from processed production.
Buyer Input on Purchasing Fresh Market Strawberries
Grower Strategies for Improving Fresh Market Sales
- Gene Versteeg, Produce Merchandiser, Market of Choice. Office 541-345-0566 x 3117,
cell 541-510-1655, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Chris Harris, Produce Merchandiser/Local Buyer, New Seasons Market. 503-975-2228, email@example.com
- Randy Kautz, Manager, West Salem Roth’s. (503) 370-3790, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Jeremy Smith, Portland General Manager, Charlie’s Produce. 503-573-4406, email@example.com
- Matt Neumann, Portland Retail Sales Manager, Charlie’s Produce. 503-491-5974 x 4408, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ron Danna, Grocery Buyer, Duck Produce. 503-288-8300, email@example.com
- Michael Rinella, Senior Buyer, Rinella Produce. 503-238-1360
- Amber Holland, Operations Manager, Portland Farmers Market. 503- 241-0032, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Angela Norman, Market Director, Lane County Farmers Market. (541) 431-4923, email@example.com
- Rebecca Landis, Market Manager, Corvallis-Albany Farmers Markets. 541-740-1542, firstname.lastname@example.org
A full list of Oregon farmers markets from Oregon Farmers Markets Association.
In addition, don’t forget to contact produce managers at the local grocery store(s) of your choice. This can be an effective way to find buyers and build your network.