Priority 1 - Increase the production season and regional diversity of U.S. strawberry production

Revitalizing strawberry production in Arkansas and the surrounding region via extended season production systems 


Project LeaderGarcia project photo 1

  • Elena Garcia, University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service

Project Collaborators

  • Donn Johnson, University of Arkansas, Department of Entomology
  • Kristen Gibson, University of Arkansas, Department of Food Science
  • Michael Evans, University of Arkansas, Department of Horticulture
  • Hector German Rodriguez, University of Arkansas, Department of Agricultural Economics
  • Randy Chlapecka, University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service

Project Summary and Objectives

 This project focused on a multidisciplinary approach to revitalize strawberry production in Arkansas and the region. Outreach activities were a large component of the project. These included workshops, in-depth schools, and field days open to the public. Activities focused on season extension technologies, innovative production methods, new cultivar trials, sustainable pest and fertilization management strategies, food safety, and a tool to assist growers with financial decisions. Strawberry demonstration sites with high tunnel and field production were maintained at the Arkansas Agriculture Research and Extension Center in Fayetteville and the Fruit Research Station in Clarksville. Integrated pest management techniques were demonstrated for strawberries, using predatory species, exclusion netting, and other best management practices. Research was conducted on nutrient management for off-season high tunnel strawberry production and the correlation between nitrogen fertilization and mite populations was explored. A strawberry budget tool was developed by the team economists to serve as a decision-making tool for current and potential strawberry growers.

Garcia StrawberriesProject Outcomes and Impacts

 With the objective of expanding and extending strawberry production in Arkansas and the surrounding region, this project conducted several outreach activities that demonstrated alternative production systems, modern cultivar evaluations, and innovative production methods. The Organic High Tunnel Strawberry Workshop in Clarksville attracted 18 people, who learned about strawberry cultivars, land preparation, high tunnels, insect management, diseases, fertilization and food safety. The High Tunnel Strawberry Production Workshop in Fayetteville was attended by 29 people and was followed by an open house tour of the strawberry research site. The growers interested in learning more attended a full-day, in-depth school, which covered topics of land preparation, cultivar selection, disease and insect management, greenhouse production, and food safety, in addition to offering hands-on demonstrations. All of the presentations given at the in-depth school have been made available on the project’s YouTube channel, where there is also a collection of instructional videos for new strawberry growers. The strawberry budget tool developed through this project is the first interactive budget to focus on strawberry production for the state of Arkansas and has been made available as a free download with a companion user guide.