This is an entry in the Strawberry Plants Library here at Strawberry Plants .org. Continue reading for summarized information. The entire resource may be accessed or downloaded by clicking the link at the bottom of this post.
Growing Strawberry Plug Plants: Summary
This document was published by the Utah State University Cooperative Extension in January of 2010. It was co-authored by Daniel Rowley, a graduate student at the university, Brent Black, Extension Fruit Specialist, and Dan Drost, Extension Vegetable Specialist. The publication is an overview of the considerations involved in growing strawberry plug plants commercially. While the material is specific to Utah, the principles employed to grow plug plants can be applied in other locations, of course. The following is covered in the publication:
Introduction to Growing Strawberry Plugs
1. A brief introduction is provided that discusses the typical procedures employed by producers for the plug market. Time frames are discussed and the optimal and problematic aspects of the “when” and “where” are reviewed.
Producing Strawberry Plugs
2. The first step in the process of growing strawberry plugs is to select the site. This is discussed and the principles for efficient site selection are overviewed. Different viable options are presented, and it is emphasized that, regardless of the site and method selected, the strawberry runner plants need to avoid contact with the soil. Greenhouse-grown plants use suspended systems to avoid contact with the ground. Outdoor systems use a combination of plastic covering and straw, usually.
3. As greenhouse production is the favored method, the time frame and benefits of greenhouse growing are further examined. The ability to control both temperature and lighting makes runner production possible continually. This, in turn, allows more production throughout the process of growing strawberry plug plants.
4. The technical details for growing strawberry plugs in a greenhouse are reviewed. The spacing of the mother plats, the optimal temperature, and how to manage irrigation and water provisions are also covered.
Fertilizing In-System Strawberry Plug Plants
5. Fertilization considerations are discussed for optimal strawberry plug production. As high nitrogen content spurs vegetative growth, a water soluble mix of 20-10-20 is recommended for use in a drip irrigation system at a level of 100 parts per million. Flower buds and clusters should be removed regularly, and fertility should be ensured if continued runner/plug production is desired.
Tip Harvest for Growing Plugs
6. The criteria for harvesting runner tips for conversion to plugs are delineated. Requisites are as follows:
a. Root initials (little white/brown pegs on bottom of node) are present but not longer than 1/2 inch long.
b. At least two trifolate leaves must be present and should both be between 2.5 and 4 inches long (runners with one smaller than the other often fail to establish).
c. Harvest the tips every 10 to 14 days; be careful not to damage the plant during handling. 1/2 inch of the runner should be left as an anchor.
d. Sort the tips by size so that smaller strawberry plugs aren’t crowded out in a tray of mostly larger plants (50-cell trays of approximately 7 cubic inches per cell work best).
e. Plant immediately for best results, or chill to 32 degrees F at 95% humidity within 45 minutes and plant within 1 week.
f. Placement of root initials and anchor should be below soil surface with as much of developing crown and trifolate leaves above as is possible.
g. Gently press the soil around the anchored strawberry runner tip to more effectively set and anchor the plant.
h. Protect from wind and other adverse conditions, keep the plant and especially the leaves moist until the root system forms (misting directions are reviewed).
i. After misting is completed and the roots are established, the new strawberry plugs need to be hardened in the greenhouse.
Other Considerations for Growing Strawberry Plug Plants
7. Also reviewed is an alternative to the misting system. Plus, a discussion of pest and disease avoidance is offered which can be summarized by saying that prevention is the best medicine. As many more recent cultivars are patented, a warning is also issued to take care when selecting plants that will be producing the plugs. Ensure all permissions have been obtained.
Growing Strawberry Plug Plants: Conclusion
This publication is an important addition to the Strawberry Plants Library and should be referenced by anyone considering the viability and profitability of beginning a strawberry plug producing operation. The production of strawberry plugs can be a good stand-alone business, but can be even more profitable for operations such as strawberry farms or pick-your-owns who would normally buy their stock from someone else. So, consider the information carefully prior to setting up your own plug-producing greenhouse.
File Type: .pdf
Length: 5 pages