Project Description

Strawberries: The effect of chill hour accumulation on growth and yield

Action plan:
Three northern strawberry varieties were dug at three different levels of accumulated chill hour (base 8°C at 4’) in the fall of 2015. All three varieties were dug in the spring of 2016 as well.  The bare root plants were planted in the spring of 2016 and were monitored for the 2016/2017 growing season for plant vigor, with the final measurement taken for yield in summer 2017.

Following a busy season of picking berries and collecting cumulative yield data every couple of days, the predicted outcome that 600 chill hours is still a good time for digging northern nursery stock was largely confirmed. Based on the average total marketable weight for each treatment, the plants dug at 600 chill hours had comparable or higher yields than the plants dug at 400, 800, or 1000 chill hours, or those dug in the spring of the planting year.  Plants dug at 400 chill hours produced the lowest marketable yields, indicating that not enough dormancy has been established at that time for optimum plant health during vegetative growth and the fruiting year.