Why are your strawberries not perfect?

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Why are your strawberries not perfect?

Strawberry cultivation presents farmers with a myriad of challenges, not least of which is the phenomenon of fruit deformation. This issue can significantly impact the quality and marketability of strawberries, making it crucial for growers to understand its underlying causes and implement effective preventative measures.

Poor pollination

One of the primary causes of fruit deformation in strawberries is poor pollination, particularly prevalent in long-season varieties cultivated from October to May. During this period, environmental factors such as frost and low temperatures can disrupt the pollination process, leading to irregular fruit development. Cross-pollination, facilitated by wind or bees, typically results in larger and more uniform fruits compared to self-pollination.

 

To mitigate the effects of poor pollination, farmers can take several proactive steps. For instance, maintaining beehives near strawberry fields during the flowering season can enhance pollination rates, thereby improving fruit quality. Additionally, the application of biological products such as “Rhyno,” which stimulate cell division and fruit development, can help reduce the incidence of deformation.

Pest Infestation, Especially Thrips

Another significant factor contributing to strawberry fruit deformation is pest infestation, with thrips being a common culprit. Thrips are small, winged insects that feed on plant tissues by piercing and sucking out cellular contents. In strawberries, infestations of species like Frankliniella occidentalis can lead to flower abortion, fruit bronzing, and distortion.

 

Effective pest management strategies are essential for controlling thrips and minimizing their impact on strawberry crops. This may involve the application of insecticides such as Siltac, which targets thrips while minimizing harm to beneficial insects:

  • Spray Siltac at a rate of 100cc per 200l of water, with two consecutive interventions.

Alternatively, biological control methods, such as introducing predatory insects like anthocoridae bugs, can help keep thrips populations in check.

Micronutrient Deficiencies, Particularly Boron

Micronutrient deficiencies, notably boron deficiency, can also contribute to strawberry fruit deformation. Insufficient levels of boron in the soil can result in malformed fruits characterized by clustered achenes and poor overall quality. Boron plays a crucial role in flower development and pollen germination, making it essential for proper fruit formation.

 

To address boron deficiencies and prevent fruit deformation, farmers can apply boron-rich fertilizers such as Calbor during the growing season. These fertilizers provide the necessary micronutrients to support healthy plant growth and fruit development, thereby reducing the incidence of deformities.

In conclusion, strawberry fruit deformation is a complex issue influenced by various factors, including pollination, pest infestation, and micronutrient deficiencies. By implementing proactive measures such as optimizing pollination conditions, managing pest populations, and addressing nutrient imbalances, growers can minimize the occurrence of deformities and produce high-quality strawberries for the market.

By Eng. Mounir Abi Fadel

Maryse Bou Zeid

mbouzeid@debbaneagri.com

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