SECRET TO YOUR SUCCESS
What makes PHC successful is that we supply the plant material together with the technical advice and equipment required for growers to succeed in a competitive industry. Because we produce fruit for the export market, we are reliant on top quality plant material. We plant the same varieties we send to growers, so we know exactly what the plant material is capable of producing. This gives us the confidence to recommend varieties AND the technical know-how to grow them successfully.
Our motto is “management through measurement” and we put management systems in place in our nursery and on farms we supply to ensure that “we do the right thing at the right time”.
We pride ourselves on having the best employees, training, equipping and rewarding them well and giving them a real sense of ownership with incentive bonuses.
HOW TO OVERCOME THE CHALLENGES IN EARLY FRUIT
PRODUCTION WHEN PLANTING EARLY OR IN WARM LOCATIONS
THE SOLUTION IS IN THE PROBLEM
For flower initiation in strawberries the plants require stress signals. Typically these are cold night temperatures (lower than 15°C) and shortening day length. Initial flower initiation (first flush) is reinforced by the transplant stress, but the first flush is usually small.
The second, large flower flush is reliant on low night temperatures and short day lengths. When planting early, the temperatures sometimes are not cold enough to induce flowering and so this flush is delayed until the cold temperatures set in. This large flush usually coincides with the high demand and high price period for strawberries and so it is vital that there is no delay in initiation. Enhance the low temperatures by ventilating tunnels or cloches to keep the plants as cool as possible. When night temperature remain above 15°C then use moisture stress (stop irrigating till wilting point) to help induce sufficient flowers to initiate.
WAYS TO FURTHER MAXIMISE EARLY STRAWBERRY PRODUCTION
Late planted Day-Neutral varieties
There are a number of growers that have adopted the “Spring Planting” technique of growing Day Neutral varieties. Instead of lifting the plants from the nursery in March/April, they are left in the nursery for the entire winter and planted in the spring (July-Sep.). By this time the runners have developed very strong, fleshy roots filled with large starch reserves. The cold winter temperatures keep the plants dormant, so they are supplied with a small rosette of new leaves and many flower trusses initiated. They are planted leaf-on and initial flowers need to be removed until a good canopy and root system have developed before the summer heat arrives.
These plants will battle on through the summer, producing small amounts of fruit (Albion is good because even in summer fruit are firm enough to sell). By the time autumn arrives the plants have developed 4-6 crowns and cooler temperatures induce a very large crop. Because of the high number of crowns sharing one root system, the fruit quality is not the same as for new plants, but the potential early crop is considerably bigger. Albion and San Andreas is best if you are wanting to sell fruit in summer. Flower initiation will continue to take place as long as the temperatures remain below 25°C.
Nitrate nitrogen is not taken up when soil temperatures are below 16°C. This period of low soil temperature usually co-insides with the most important second flower flush. Do not close the cloches or tunnels during the day to increase soil temperatures and improve nutrient uptake, rather supplement the nutrition by foliar sprays.
Add 0.5% KNO3 to the spray mix (5kg/1000L) Use Omnigreen where Zn, Mn & Cu levels are low. When you see many trusses pushing out of the crown, apply this mix twice per week. When there are too many fruit, the root system cannot supply them with sufficient N & K and so the fruit cannibalise the root and leaf reserves, causing the plant to go into a dormant phase shortly after this peak- where no new trusses are formed while the leaves and roots recover.
The twice weekly spray must commence when you see trusses pushing so that you can build the leaf reserve levels before the N & K are needed for sizing and sweetening up the fruit. Add a boron spray when there are plenty of flowers to ensure good pollination