Priority 2: Reducing Chemical Inputs

Strawberry Diagnostics: A problem solving tool


Project LeaderWhipker project photo 1

  • Brian Whipker, North Carolina State University, Department Horticultural Science

Project Collaborators

  • Barbara Shew, North Carolina State University, Department of Plant Pathology
  • Hannah Burrack, North Carolina State University, Department of Entomology
  • Jeremy Pattison, North Carolina State University, Plants for Human Health Institute
  • Frank Louws, North Carolina State University, Department of Plant Pathology
  • Rhonda Conlon, North Carolina State University, Cooperative Extension Information Technology

Project Summary

The goal of this project was to create an online diagnostic key to enable growers to identify problems associated with strawberry production. Strawberry growers are often faced with unknown plant disorders during the production season. A comprehensive, problem-solving identification tool will aid in rapid identification of arthropod, disease, physiological, and nutritional disorders and allow growers to select the most appropriate management strategy. The single objective of this project was to create an online diagnostic tool for strawberry growers to identify production problems, reduce chemical inputs, minimize crop loss, and improve profitability. This will enable growers to check off symptoms that appear on their crop in order to come up with a problem diagnosis. While there had been prior studies completed which investigate nutritional disorders, none of those images are available on the web. This has hindered past efforts of growers to be able to identify nutritional disorders unless they owned a paper guide. This project overcomes that limitation by providing funding to induce those disorders and obtain problem photographs. With the inclusion of newly created nutritional disorder information, it enables the key to become holistic in its approach to problem diagnosis for strawberries.

Whipker project photo 2Project Outputs and Impacts

This project developed the first interactive, attribute-driven diagnostic tool for strawberry disorders. The Strawberry Diagnostic Key is free to the public on the North Carolina Cooperative Extension's online Strawberry Grower's Information portal. It uniquely includes all disorders, including those caused by insects, disease, nutrition or physiological factors. The key is viewable from a desktop, laptop, tablet, or smart phone. Users simply check the boxes next to the symptoms they observe in their crop, and the key deduces the most likely causes, providing fact sheets for more information. In total, there are 77 fact sheets, including 22 for arthropods, 19 for diseases, 14 for nutritional disorders, and 19 for physiological disorders. In addition, nine videos about strawberry problem diagnostics have been recorded and uploaded onto the NSSI YouTube channel.