This past week I had the opportunity to attend the 8th North American Strawberry Symposium in Ventura, California (hosted by the North American Strawberry Growers Association.) This event is a “meeting point” for researchers, growers and industry professionals from around the world. (I personally had a coffee or beer with people from the US, Mexico, Canada, Japan, Holland and Belgium.)
Historically this was a traditional strawberry production event, focusing on field production issues. BUT, this seems to be changing. This year there were three specific talks that focused on the soilless production of strawberries. These discussions were:
The latest Dutch/European Strawberry Developments – Willam van Eldik, from DLV in The Netherlans
Milestones, methods and strategies resulting in year-round strawberry production in Belgium – Tom Van Delm, Research Centre in Hoogestraten, Belgium
Off-Season greenhouse strawberry production in semi-arid climates: Key technologies and crop yield – Dr Chieri Kubota, the University of Arizona.
While none of these presentation promised guaranteed and immediate success, they all pointed to a future with strawberry production using controlled environment agriculture and associated hydroponic growing systems.
Based on those in the audience, I think it is safe to say the industry agrees. We saw key greenhouse and field-grown players taking photos of every slide while furiously taking notes.
If you would like additional information on growing strawberries in a controlled environment, please contact us and we will point you in the right direction.