PERFORMANCE EVALUATION OF STRAWBERRY (Fragaria ×ananassa Duch.) UNDER HYDROPONIC SYSTEMS IN ALABAMA
Type of DegreeMaster's Thesis
Restriction TypeAuburn University Users
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Alabama strawberries have been farmed for over three decades in Alabama, and lately, there is interest in expanding acreage and finding alternative production systems. Hydroponics is an alternative system providing tools to manage the most critical biotic and abiotic factors with the main goal of getting high-quality berries and increased yields. A literature review is presented in chapter one where economical and historical importance of strawberries, followed by basics concepts including strawberry growth and development, crop management practices, and a brief description of production systems as well as commercial cultivars used. A complete physiological evaluation is presented in chapter two, the main goal of this study is to evaluate the performance of two day-neutral cultivars under a hydroponic system through a physiological response evaluation to climatic factors. Two day-neutral cultivars ‘Albion’ and ‘San Andreas’ were planted evaluated for photosynthesis, growth and development, yields, and fruit quality. Also, weather data in the greenhouse was collected to evaluate the influence of climatic conditions on plant performance. ‘Albion’ performed better for photosynthetic activity and fruit quality with higher °Bx. ‘San Andreas’ presented higher growth and development and yields. Temperature correlated negatively with the photosynthesis. Early and late yields were obtained from November to May, extending the production season to six months with a production peak for February and May. Fruit quality parameters were maintained during the production season. A model was developed for the cycle of flower to fruit and is presented in chapter three. Six stages were identified and Gaussian curves were used to model the differen stages from flower bud to mature berry. A sensitivity of the model was performed to know the influence of temperature on phenological stages. This study was the first of its kind at Auburn University; thus, its results greatly help Alabama growers by providing relevant information on strawberry cultivation under protected environments.