May 15, 2020 – Due to a lack of commercially available organic strawberry transplants, organic producers have traditionally had to use conventional strawberry transplants. While organic strawberry producers have expressed dissatisfaction with this method, it has been difficult to transition away from conventional transplants in part because there is little data on their performance relative to conventional transplants. To address this critical question, Dr. Lisa Bunin, Director of Organic Advocacy, and Stefanie Bourcier, CEO of Farm Fuel Inc., led a research trial on five organic strawberry farms on the Central Coast of California to test the success of public varieties of organic versus conventional transplants.
Specifically, the goals of this OFRF-funded project were to compare disease susceptibility (leaf wilting) and crop productivity of organic and conventional transplants. Overall, the results clearly demonstrate that organic strawberry transplants performed comparably to conventional transplants with respect to plant growth, disease occurrence, and yield. Based on these findings, farmers participating in the study expressed complete satisfaction with the performance of organic strawberry transplants and plan to continue growing them. In turn, the nursery participating in the trial began producing over one million organic strawberry transplants for the 2019/2020 season in response to positive farmer feedback and increased market demand.
A detailed report of the project is available here.