Strawberries are a high-input but high-value crop, and local growers can sell everything they grow at very good prices. However, grower management practices can make a difference in the bottom line.
To ensure growers can provide best management, a project led by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service is in its second year of evaluating various managing practices. These include planting dates, use of shade cloth to extend the season and reduce plant heat stress, fertilizer rates, irrigation levels for nitrogen leaching in soil, plant spacing and herbicides for weed control.
“Consumers want locally grown strawberries,” said Russ Wallace, Ph.D., an AgriLife Extension horticulturist in Lubbock and professor in Texas A&M’s Department of Horticultural Sciences. “However, growers should learn optimal strawberry production methods before spending their money.”
Wallace leads the research project to conduct collaborative statewide trials at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Lubbock, Prairie View A&M University and a grower’s farm in Atascosa County.
The project is funded by a grant sponsored from a 2020 Texas Department of Agriculture specialty crops block grant program.
Poteet, in Atascosa County, has the highest concentration of strawberry growers in Texas, and the Poteet Strawberry Growers Association and the Poteet Rotary Club helped purchase plants for the trials each year.
“Our main goal is to provide research-backed information and training for those wanting to grow strawberries on the High Plains, as well as throughout the state,” Wallace said. “We encourage growers to discuss potential strawberry production with experts at AgriLife Extension prior to growing berries.”
Other members of the team include Thayne Montague, Ph.D., associate professor, who is jointly appointed to Texas A&M AgriLife Research and the Texas Tech University Department of Plant and Soil Sciences; Peter Ampim, Ph.D., research scientist, Prairie View A&M University, Prairie View; Larry Stein, Ph.D., associate department head and AgriLife Extension leader for the Department of Horticulture Sciences, Uvalde; Dale Rankin, AgriLife Extension agent, Atascosa County; Laura Miller, AgriLife Extension horticulture agent, Tarrant County; and Janet Laminack, AgriLife Extension horticulture agent, Denton County.
Wallace said all trials are being repeated this growing season. More information about the trials and results will be shared at the Strawberry Field Day at 6 p.m. May 4 at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center for Lubbock, 1102 E. Drew St.