Greening of Strawberry Plasticulture

slenderleaf rattlebox with strawberries
2017 bare-root strawberry transplant establishment trial at the UF Plant Science Research and Education Unit in Citra, FL


Research and extension activities will address the unsustainable practice of using an extended period of overhead irrigation to limit heat stress during the establishment of bare-root strawberry transplants on black plastic mulch.

On-farm and on-station field experiments will be conducted to compare:
  1. conventional high-volume sprinkler irrigation
  2. low-volume sprinkler irrigation
  3. high-volume sprinkler irrigation + living mulch
  4. low-volume sprinkler irrigation + living mulch
Living Mulches:
  1. sunn hemp
  2. hairy indigo
  3. slenderleaf rattlebox
Additional Measurements:
  • During strawberry establishment, irrigation infiltration and runoff will be assessed.
  • Data will be collected on strawberry stand establishment, growth, and fruit yield.
  • Living mulch suppression of weeds and sting nematodes will also be assessed.
Anticipated Outcomes:

We anticipate that the combination of low-volume sprinklers and living mulch in row middles will increase the sustainability of strawberry production by decreasing water use during bare-root transplant establishment, promoting infiltration at the expense of runoff, increasing the diversity of the cropping system, and improving cropping system resilience to weeds and to the sting nematode (Belonolaimus longicaudatus).


Research trials were initiated in Dover, FL and at the Plant Science Research and Education Unit in Citra, FL in August 2017.
  • beds were fumigated
  • drip-tape laid
  • plastic mulch installed
  • erosion and runoff measuring devices were installed at both sites
  • lysimeters were installed at the Citra site with plans for reuse at the Dover location
  • living mulches were successfully established at Citra
  • bare-root strawberry transplants (Sensation™ Brand ‘Florida127’) were planted and the overhead irrigation treatments were initiated immediately after transplanting to promote establishment
  • At the Florida Strawberry Growers Association farm in Dover, two successive plantings of the living mulches failed to establish evenly across the site
  • Establishment of an alternative set of living mulches (rye, oat, and triticale) was initiated in December
  • Over the course of the project we have documented the growing cycle and project activities with photographs


Carlene Chase (PI) – UF
Mickie Swisher – UF
Lillian Pride – UF
Kaylene Sattanno – UF