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

Revitalization of Texas Strawberry Industry through Identification of Production Constraints

 

Project LeaderWallace project photo 1

  • Russell Wallace, Texas A&M AgriLife Research & Extension Center

Project Collaborators

  • Prairie View A&M University -- Justin Duncan
  • Texas A&M AgriLife Extension -- Monte Nesbitt,
  • Mengmeng Gu, Juan Anciso, Joe Masabni, Pat Porter, Larry Stein, Marco Palma, Barbara Storz, Angel Fattorini, Helen White Texas A&M
  • AgriLife Research -- Genhua Niu and Daniel Leskovar

Project Summary

Texas population growth is expected to increase by 6.5 million people in the next seven years, which represents a tremendous income opportunity for small- to medium-sized farmers, especially those considering expansion into horticultural crops such as strawberries. The Texas Strawberry Project addressed this opportunity with objectives to 1) organize and designate strawberry production centers in Texas based on climate and soil delineations and proximity to urban centers; 2) create strawberry extension and research teams assigned to address specific geographically based needs of the strawberry industry; 3) identify current and potential strawberry growers to serve as survey participants for assessing the needs of producers and industry in Texas; 4) develop production models and research and demonstration trials for each region based on survey results; 5) organize a Strawberry High Tunnel Conference for project collaborators and growers and organize regional Strawberry Field Days for current and potential growers; and 6) organize the collective “best fit” production efforts from each of the strawberry centers into a concise, easy-to-understand guide book.

Wallace project photo 2Project Outputs and Impacts

The Texas Strawberry Project reached more than 99,000 people by active promotion through newspaper articles, television and radio interviews, magazine articles, and social media. The project also was very active in promoting sustainable strawberry production through a series of field days, meetings, and a High Tunnel Strawberry Conference. In the course of a year the project hosted 22 field days and demonstration trials, which reached more than 300 growers and 50 extension agents with information about how to evaluate irrigation, pH and salinity, select strawberry plant varieties, construct high and low tunnels, install drip irrigation and plastic mulch, and other topics. A two-day consumer taste and preference survey also was held to evaluate several strawberry varieties. In addition, a 41-page Production Guide for Texas-Grown Strawberries and an 11-minute video documentary, "The Texas Strawberry Project," were published. Due to the work of this project team, there are now five new acres of strawberry production in the state and 15 acres that have implemented more sustainable production practices.

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