Researcher examines use of Apogee in strawberry production
March 27, 2009 By Dan Woolley
Since the early 1990s, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada research
scientist Dr, Julia Reekie, based at the Atlantic Food and
Horticultural Research Centre in Kentville, N.S, has been examining
various growth regulators in a bid to control the height of strawberry
|Research findings from the 2008 season showed that strawberry plants treated with Apogee produced fewer runners than untreated controls. Exaggerated effects were observed when the concentration of the Apogee application was increased, including a larger crown size and a much higher fruit yield per plant.
Since the early 1990s, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada research scientist Dr, Julia Reekie, based at the Atlantic Food and Horticultural Research Centre in Kentville, N.S, has been examining various growth regulators in a bid to control the height of strawberry transplants.
Last year, she decided to shift her research focus to include Apogee, a growth regulator commonly used in apple production. She hoped the product could be used as an height regulator for strawberry transplants produced in Nova Scotia that are marketed principally to growers in the southeastern U.S. states.
During the recent 2009 Hort Congress, hosted by Horticulture Nova Scotia, Dr. Reekie discussed her research with growers. She explained that Apogee affects a plant’s morphology by reducing its height while, at the same time, increasing its root-to-shoot ratio. It does this by accelerating root development while reducing the number and length of runners, plus decreasing specific leaf areas.
With more roots, she said, growers will get sturdier transplants, a higher rate of photosynthesis and increased drought resistance.
Dr. Reekie is also examining Apogee’s effects on growth suppression of stolon (runner) formation in strawberries as well assessing its effects on fruit production.
Jennifer Smith, a research assistant with Dr. Reekie, described the research trials conducted in 2008. Two strawberry varieties were used in the trials – Jewel and Darselect – with 96 plants of each variety placed in groups of 12. The transplants were placed in growth cabinets from June 1 to Sept. 30. At three-week intervals, two concentrations of Apogee were applied along with any necessary plant nutrients required. All stolons (runners) were hand removed.
Smith said the transplants were then harvested and weighed to assess the plant growth. In general, plants treated with Apogee produced few runners than the untreated controls, with Jewel having 19 per cent fewer and Darselect 11 per cent less, she said. Smith added that increasing the concentration of Apogee applied resulted in an even greater reduction in runner length.
In trials involving field application of Apogee to the strawberry variety Seascape, similar results were observed, said Smith. Fewer and shorter runners resulted and more exaggerated effects occurred after increasing the concentration of the Apogee application, she said.
Smith also said plants treated with Apogee had fewer daughter plants but a larger crown size and a much higher fruit yield per plant when a double application of Apogee occurred.
Research will continue in 2009 examining increasing fruit size using Apogee, Smith said. ❦
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