Science into practice - studentship helps everbearers keep their cool

Thanks to advances in breeding giving improved quality, the UK soft fruit industry has increased production of everbearing strawberry varieties.

But the crop is at risk of thermodormancy in June, July and August when temperatures can rise above 25 degsC for extended periods.

Four experiments were conducted within HDC project CP 35. The first looked at the interaction of high temperature with other parameters of the growing environment. The second explored the impact of reducing crop load during periods of high temperature. The third determined the effect of high temperatures on pollen performance and the fourth investigated the potential of heat-control films.

The findings suggest that temperature alone seemed to be the main trigger of thermodormancy and that any steps that can be taken to enhance pollen performance during and after high-temperature events are likely to ameliorate thermodormancy.

Plastic film cladding and internal shading may both have important implications for late-season fruit production and forced air circulation could be an effective greenhouse cooling strategy.

The combination of forced air circulation and shading is suggested for commercial protected production.

Dates for your diary

HDC Soft Fruit Panel Meeting - Bradbourne House, East Malling, Kent, 16 February.

Herbaceous Perennials Technical Discussion Group - London, 22 February. The meeting will showcase HDC crop protection projects.

HDC Protected Edibles Panel Meeting - University of Warwick, Wellesbourne, 24 February.

Horticultural Development Company

- For details on all HDC activities, visit www.hdc.org.uk.


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