|Authors: ||E. Braet, J. Simoen, J. Hanssens|
|Keywords: ||yield, grading, 'Elsanta', branch crowns, thinning, economic evaluation, labour costs|
Growers often wonder if a continuous cultivation of strawberry plants is more beneficial than a fresh planting in spring.
After harvest in autumn, strawberry plants can be maintained inactive during winter and recovered for a second harvesting period the next year.
This continuous cultivation requires additional efforts after harvest in autumn to maintain the plants.
Because of that, many growers choose to replant crops every spring.
This study aimed at comparing a continuous cultivation with a new planting, both cold-stored 'Elsanta' plants.
Yield, grading and different actions of crop maintenance were carefully registered in a 2-year trial during 2013 and 2014. Also, the effect of thinning of branch crowns and plants per pot was evaluated.
The new planting resulted in more large sized fruits (class I) compared with the continuous cultivation.
Thinning of branch crowns (keeping 2 to 3 crowns per plant) in continuous cultivation improves fruit grading and less small fruits were harvested.
Too much thinning of crowns resulted in a loss of production.
Furthermore, storing plants for continuous cultivation in a fridge during winter improved yield and fruit grading, however, the additional cost for cooling has to be considered.
Results indicated that planting a new crop in spring required less labour per 100 running meter than maintaining the plants from a continuous cultivation.
However, the costs for new plants and peat substrate are considerably higher when choosing a fresh spring planting.
The net result per 100 running meter strongly depended on pricing.
Our results indicated that a fresh planting may be more beneficial as a result from a higher number of large fruits that can be harvested, which compensates for the additional costs for plants and substrate.
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