Strawberry field day draws 'berry' large crowd

Surendra Dara seemed pleased with the turn-out for his annual strawberry field day in Santa Maria, Calif.

Dara is the strawberry and vegetable crops advisor and affiliated IPM advisor in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties.

About 140 people visited Manzanita Berry Farms in Santa Maria to hear updates on strawberry research and receive practical advice in farming practices relative to the berry crop.

Those attending the half-day event heard practical tips and information on pesticide safety training for workers from Lisa Blecker, pesticide safety education coordinator from UC Davis; updates on activities by Jason Sharrett with the California Strawberry Commission; and, mineral nutrition issues in strawberries from Santa Cruz County Farm Advisor Mark Bolda.

The event also featured a practical discussion on climate and water issues from Samuel Sandoval, CE specialist and UC Davis professor, who educated attendees about how long it can take water to recharge aquifers and the proper use of chemical applications to ensure against contaminating water and soil resources. Talks on beneficial microbes, water conservation, biopesticides and biostimulants were also part of the event.

A brief discussion of how drones can help growers was also featured.

California produces over 90 percent of the nation’s strawberries. They are generally harvested from February through November. Nearly 40,000 acres of strawberries were grown in California in 2012, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

The state’s strawberry crop is valued at more than $2 billion.


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