Courtesy North Carolina State UniversityNorth Carolina State University strawberry breeder Jeremy Pattison inspects research plots at the Piedmont Research Station in Salisbury.A group of North Carolina State University strawberry researchers were the recipients of sustainability grants they say they'll use to help lengthen the growing season and demonstrate cost-effective cooling systems.
The group, led by strawberry breeder and geneticist Jeremy Pattison, received $158,391 from the National Strawberry Sustainability Initiative.
Pattison also is a co-investigator with Brian Whipker, also of N.C. State, on a second project that received $127,168, according to a news release.
Pattison recently completed a fall growing degree-day model that's been tested throughout the state.
The system helps increase marketable yield, season length and stability.
The grant will be used to provide training to growers about the degree-day model.
The grant also will help fund sharing of a cost-effective, energy efficient cooling system with small- to medium-sized growers.
Cooling helps maintain fruit quality and reduce postharvest loss.
In addition, the project will help educate growers about an updated comprehensive strawberry plasticulture farm budget.
Plasticulture involves laying plastic mulch over beds, under which drip lines are run for fertigation.
Whipker will lead a project on a strawberry diagnostic tool that growers can access with computers, tablets or smartphones. It is designed to provide real-time access to N.C. State strawberry research.
Michelle Schroeder-Moreno also received funding for a project on the affects of compost, cover crops and inoculants on strawberry production and yield.
The National Strawberry Sustainability Initiative was created with a $3 million donation from the Wal-Mart Foundation, It is administered by the University of Arkansas.