What is in this article?:
- New Mexico State University continues to test potential alternate fruit crops for Northern New Mexico.
- Late freezes put fruit crops in jeopardy.
- Strawberry variety trials seek to identify best options.
Shengrui Yao, New Mexico State University Extension fruit specialist and researcher at NMSU's Sustainable Agriculture Science Center at Alcalde, check strawberry plants for signs of freeze damage. She is studying strawberries as a potential alternative crop for Northern New Mexico.
The six most tolerant cultivars to date are Wendy, Brunswick, Jewel, Cavendish and Honeoye. The most sensitive cultivars are Allstar, Chandler and Darselect.
A common problem for high pH soil is iron deficiency in plants even when the soil iron level is not low.
"We are managing the leaf chlorosis caused by the iron deficiency with a chelated iron supplement applied through the drip irrigation system," Yao said. "We we are using a product called FerriPlusÂ which is effective in correcting leaf chlorosis."
Two other issues Yao faced during the first two years of the study were tarnished plant bugs and anthracnose disease.
"In general, disease is not a big issue in strawberry production in New Mexico. However, we did have anthracnose, a fungal disease, in the plot in 2012," she said.
"What we did learn in 2012 is that Earliglow, Allstar, Jewel, Darselect and Honeoye were sensitive cultivars to the disease, while Brunswick, Cavendish and Mesabi were more tolerant to anthracnose."
The impact of tarnished plant bug is that the fruit does not form to an ideal shape. The eggs are deposited on the fruit, and when the larvae hatch, they suck on the fruit causing it to be malformed.
"Because the strawberry field was near an alfalfa plot, which is another host for tarnished plant bugs, we had an issue with these bugs," Yao said. "A little bug, a fourth-of-an-inch in size, can do huge damage to the crop."
Yao wants to conduct the study for several years to obtain yield information from the various seasonal conditions and observe possible problems associated with each planting system.
After two years, the three most productive cultivars were Mesabi, Cavendish and Kent, while the three least productive were Earliglow, Wendy and Chandler.
"Cultivar recommendation should not be based on one characteristic, but all in general," she said. "I would prefer to have another good harvest and then make cultivar recommendations."
With that said, the Mesabi cultivar is leading the study after the first two years.
"Mesabi has its special genetic June yellow leaves, but has a good winter hardiness, yield and disease resistance," she said. "It might not be a bad one to be raised in this region."