Strawberry Production in Soilless Culture Systems.
Two greenhouse strawberry production studies were performed. In the first study, strawberry plants were grown in filtered aquaculture effluent. Freshly dug plants of cultivars Chandler and Sweet Charlie were transplanted on 1 October 1995 in vertically-stacked square pots (28 plants/m2) containing coarse perlite. The plants were fertigated continuously with commercial nutrient solution (pH 6.4 and EC=0.6 mS/cm) or with once-through aquaculture effluent (pH 7.2, EC=1.6 mS/cm, 6 mg/litre total suspended solids). Since nutrient concentrations in aquaculture effluent were about 15% of the levels measured in commercial nutrient solution the following nutrients were supplemented (mg/litre): NO3-N (18), P (0.7), K (5), Ca(55), Mg (20) and S (9) and all micronutrients. However, the growth and fruit production (200 g/plant) in plants fertigated with aquaculture effluent was low due to poor light conditions in the middle and bottom portions of the tower system and deficient levels of tissue N and P. In the second study, freshly dug and runner-tip plants of cultivars Camarosa, Chandler, and Sweet Charlie were grown with a continuously flowing commercial nutrient solution in nutrient film technique (NFT) troughs (13 plants/m2) from October 1996 to May 1997. Sweet Charlie produced fruit the earliest, beginning in early December, and Camarosa produced the most fruit (445 g/plant). Generally runner-tip plants performed better than freshly dug plants. These studies indicate that a soilless strawberry production system for off-season fruiting in the middle Atlantic coast region is possible.