Allen Davis and Neil Nagata Discuss Strawberry Center Field Day
SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA - By now, those of us in the produce industry know you can’t control Mother Nature; however, we can mitigate her impacts through technology. This was on display at the Cal Poly seventh annual Strawberry Center Field Day, held on August 3, 2023, at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in partnership with the California Strawberry Commission.
“The Strawberry Center Field Day gives growers the opportunity to see their investments in research in action,” said Allen Davis, Chairman of the Board at the California Strawberry Commission. “It’s exciting to see this partnership between the California Strawberry Commission and the Cal Poly Strawberry Center, bring together growers, students, and researchers to develop more efficient and sustainable tools that are being used today on California strawberry farms.”
Hundreds of strawberry growers, researchers, and industry representatives from across California and beyond gathered for the informative event. This was the largest Field Day to date, with over 440 attendees and 40 sponsors.
Participants had the chance to rotate through Automation, Entomology, and Plant Pathology stations, hearing from Cal Poly students and California Strawberry Commission staff about the latest research and innovation taking place at the Strawberry Center. Topics ranged from the newest automation technology to combating soil-borne pathogens and more.
“The Cal Poly Strawberry Center creates a strong synergistic relationship with the students, researchers, and the strawberry industry,” said Oceanside strawberry grower, Neil Nagata. “California is leading the way in strawberry farming, not just in volume, but in innovative, sustainable practices that have been adopted around the world.”
The automation team used the event to showcase autonomous UV-C platforms, runner cutter automation, optimized two-row and four-row spray rig design, a plastic mulch cross-hole puncher, an in-field Lygus monitoring program, and a hoop house arch remover assistant.
Researchers also highlighted the management of pests such as Lygus bugs and mites, presenting potential solutions to minimize their presence and damage. Studies on Macrophomina root rot and Verticillium wilt, diagnostics, pathogenicity tests, and fungicide efficacy results against Botrytis fruit rot and powdery mildew were also presented.