Question of the Week
Answer: Thank you for your recent request for information from ATTRA, the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service. I am pleased to provide you with information regarding organic strawberry production in hoop houses.
Below is a great overview of greenhouse strawberry production by a horticulture specialist at Cornell University who specializes in greenhouse berry production.
Berried Treasures: Off-Season Production of Strawberries and Raspberries
By: Marvin Pritts - Department of Horticulture. Cornell University. 2000.
This publication focused primarily on off-season strawberry production in a greenhouse, which I am assuming that you might want to do, considering your location. Most of the principles of greenhouse strawberry production are outlined in this publication, however the focus of this publication is not organic.
For organic strawberry production it is important to consider fertility management. For sustained organic fertility throughout the season (most Everbearing varieties will require this) a common practice is to apply enough high-N materials, such as fish meals, seed meals or alfalfa meal, to supply 30 pounds of actual N per acre. Compost can be used as a supplement and serves well to condition the soil and balance nutrients but does not provide enough available N at the time needed. An inch of compost and the appropriate amount of a high-N organic material spread directly over the rows is recommended (Sideman 2002). Eric Sideman mentions this and other great general tips for growing organic strawberries outside. While some of this information is specific to outdoor production, I think a lot would still apply to your situation. You can access this article at the following link:
Hoop houses may help prevent some strawberry pest insects, but encourage others. While some insects may not be as much of a problem, some disease problems may increase. Drip irrigation will help prevent soil born pest disease by preventing splashing on leaves and decreasing leaf humidity. Also, for specific pest management issues that arise in your greenhouse, I would encourage you to look at the ATTRA publication, Strawberries: Organic Production, which discusses pests specific to strawberries.
Sideman, Eric. 2007. Organic Strawberry Production. Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association. The Maine Organic Farmer and Gardener Newsletter Winter 2007/2008.
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