According to Pattison, North Carolina and the surrounding region is well positioned to supply the current increases in consumer demand, but success is dependent on satisfying all participants in the supply chain such as regional chain stores.

“Because our relatively short season often limits access to larger, local markets, we believe production improvements and other strategies to maximize fruit quality and postharvest stability are needed to increase the presence of local fruit in major markets,” said Pattison.

The other project with Whipker is a strawberry diagnostics tool that strawberry growers can access with their computer, tablet or smart phone. It will help ensure that growers and others have real-time access to the broad spectrum of North Carolina State research and knowledge relevant to all aspects of strawberry production.

One other North Carolina State strawberry project was among the 18 nationwide receiving funding. Michelle Schroeder-Moreno, assistant professor of crop science, received $78,034 for a project on the impact of compost, cover crops and soil inoculants on strawberry production and how they influence marketable fruit yield.

The project is expected to lead to improved soil recommendations for how strawberries can be produced sustainably.

These projects are funded by a grant from the Walmart Foundation and administered by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Center for Agricultural and Rural Sustainability (CARS). According to CARS, funded projects will result in more sustainable strawberries for U.S. consumers. The grant awards are part of a $3 million donation made by the Walmart Foundation.

“This grant project seeks to move the science and technology for alternative strawberry production systems and areas away from laboratories and experiment farms into the producers’ fields,” said Curt Rom of the CARS leadership team.

“The goal is to increase local and regional production of strawberries, to reduce the environmental impact of production, to reduce transportation distances between farms and markets or consumers, to reduce product loss in the supply-value chain and improve the environmental and economic sustainability of the production system,” Rom said.


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