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ARS Investigate Boosts Strawberry Generation | Sustainable information

Feb 09, 2021

Sweet, juicy strawberries not only style superior, they’re also full of nourishment. Minimal in calories and carbs, the uncooked fruit is a great source of fiber, potassium, iron, and vitamin C. (Photo by Peggy Greb)

If you’re 1 of the tens of millions of men and women who will receive the tasty reward of strawberries on Valentine’s Day, you can thank scientists at USDA’s Agricultural Research Assistance (ARS) as properly as your sweetheart.

Strawberries have been a useful crop for numerous several years, but not with out escaping disaster together the journey. In the 1950s, America’s strawberry output was being ravaged by a root-rotting fungus identified as pink steele. ARS came to the rescue (PDF, 1.8 MB), conserving the business by breeding dozens of strawberry cultivars that could stand up to crimson steele and many other issues growers experience, these as insects, health conditions, brief escalating seasons, and the rigors of harvest and transportation. ARS’s operate in strawberry analysis goes very well over and above the ‘50s, while.

“Strawberry breeding at the ARS facility in Beltsville, MD, predates targeted traffic lights,” mentioned Kim Lewers, exploration geneticist at the ARS Genetic Advancement for Fruits and Veggies Laboratory in Beltsville. USDA began strawberry analysis in 1910 and discovered how to preserve strawberries red even following canning or freezing. “Strawberry vegetation produced by USDA had been the first to survive shipping and delivery, which made a strawberry marketplace.”

ARS results in strawberry varieties that have all-natural resistance to fruit rot and create fruit that stays clean for a longer time following harvest, Lewers explained. “Farmers do not have to use pesticides that avert rot, and buyers can enjoy all their strawberries’ terrific flavor lengthier following acquire.”

According to Lewers, breeding is not the only component of ARS strawberry exploration technological know-how is also a priority.

ARS is serving to to advance know-how that guarantees to boost the environmental footprint for strawberry farmers. Fumi Takeda, a research horticulturist with the Appalachian Fruit Investigation Station in Kearneysville, WV, is doing the job with field colleagues to establish a machine that eliminates the will need for pesticides. It operates by shining ultraviolet (UV) light-weight on the plants and their pests at evening.

“UV-C irradiation kills microorganisms and arthropod pests by harming their DNA,” Takeda explained. UV-C light-weight is routinely applied to destroy microorganisms in the sterilization of air in hospitals, water treatments, laboratory benches, and the therapy of meat and poultry products and solutions.

“The use of UV light in crop manufacturing has been limited because the doses needed to destroy plant pathogens ordinarily cause plant harm, this kind of as leaf and flower burns and defoliation,” he claimed. “Our research has been to produce UV-C cure methods that have higher efficacy for disorder and pest handle devoid of harming crops and are cost productive.”

Takeda and his colleagues found out that treating strawberries at night authorized them to use much decreased doses of UV-C light to correctly get rid of the targeted pathogens and pests, whilst not damaging the strawberry crops. The result is a much more sustainable strawberry farm that saves money and will help the natural environment by utilizing a lot less chemicals.

As it has for lots of a long time, the investigate carried out by ARS researchers will go on to boost the quality and quantity of strawberries for American buyers.

Study and Science

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