• 24 Sep 2022: Internationale Mechanisatie en Demonstratie Aardbei vakbeurs
    Locatie: Proefcentrum Hoogstraten, Voort 71, Meerle
    Meer info


In the North West of Belgium, in the region arround Hoogsraten, an almost yearround production of strawberries is possible through a combination of different cultivation systems and the preservation of plant material in cooling cells. The strawberry research at Research Centre Hoogstraten applies itself in all cultivation systems used in modern strawberry culture and therefore is closely correlated with standard practice. Research is performed in both substrate and soil, open air or covered with plastic tunnels, in greenhouses or in glasshouses. The research program has made already important contributions to the evolution towards the nowadays used modern specialized culture and will continue to optimize the techniques and plant performances in the future. 

The research program is divided into several themes.

rassenNew selections and cultivars of different breeding programs spread over the world are extensively tested in a number of cultivation systems and different weather conditions. Testing new cultivars is realised in 4 sequential steps. First an acqaintance with the selection is achieved in a screening trial. Afterwards the promising selections are evaluated in production and grading, quality of the crop and the fruit and are being optimized in a well defined cultivation system suitable for the selecton. In the final stages, selected cultivars are being tested in standard practice, in the cultures of Belgian growers. This way promising cultivars find their way into the commercial production and into the market.

Trials in cultivation techniques make further optimization of a culture with a certain cultivar possible. The correct plant density, an adapted nutritional scheme or an earlier plant date can dramatically change plant performances. The right plant type used in a culture and good plant quality are essential for an optimal production. Even certain weather conditions could lead to certain interferences of the grower to influence the plant performance. Cultivation techniques applied in a correct manner can achieve a plant in balance and will improve the development of the crop to obtain high production rates.

aardbei4Managing the numerous diseases and pests causing damage to a developping strawberry crop is one of the main challenges of the research centre. Searching for integrated, durable solutions is a current topic in every cultivation system during the year. In stead of chemical control, biological means are finding their way in to the strawberry culture. Predatory mites are used to reduce the presence of thrips and spider mite, predatory wasps have to control a series of aphid species and beneficial fungi in the soil and substrate need to form a defence against several root diseases. Also biological products and solutions are tested and integrated in conventional disease and pest controlling schemes. The upset is to find a durable management of diseases and pests and to lower spraying residues on the strawberry fruit.

In heating and cooling the greenhouses the aim is to reuse as much and use as less energy as possible to evolve into a durable culture and to reduce the costs made in growing and producing strawberries. The optimal use of energy screens and even the use of a fixed plastic foil in the early cultivations make it possible to contain the heat in the glasshouse without unnecessary heating.

Furthermore strawberry cultivation requires water of high quality. Capturing and collecting rainwater and reusing drain water after decontamination are mandatory in a sustainable and durable strawberry culture in greenhouses. A great part of the modern growers in Belgium already have the necessary equipment to use their water supplies in an optimal manner. At the moment the fields for plant production pose still a problem with the use of great amounts of water. The research program is continuously looking for a more sustainable use of the water supplies in both the production and plant production phase.

aardbei5New cultivation systems and technologies are being put to the test to optimize the specialized strawberry culture even further. Trials at Research Centre Hoogstraten have to make clear if such innovative techniques are an improvement in the current culture. For example the prohibition of incandescent light bulbs in the cyclic lighting in late winter and early spring ment a breakthrough for the LED-lighting methods in strawberry cultivation. Also the possibilities of assimilation light to prolong the produciton period even further is a part of the research program in Hoogstraten.

In the fertilization theme we try to realize the ideal plant development and to complement or even replace standard fertilization methods with more sustainable methods. Without negatively affecting the plant quality new methods are implemented in the plant production phase. All sorts of compost are mixed through the substrate or the soil to improve the structure and to offer nutrients to the roots in a rich and balanced microbial environment. Also the use of new kinds of substrates means looking for an adapted way to give water and nutrients.  

Through flower bud analysis it is possible to determine the plant structure. The technique enables us to estimate the plant quality before the plant date. The technique makes it possible within the research program to look at the impact of cultivation techniques, fertilization methods or other influences on flower initiation, development and plant quality. A more detailed view in plant growth and the retrieval of objective information in the influence on the growth are obtained. 

©  Proefcentrum Hoogstraten  -  Voort 71  -  2328 Meerle  -  België
Tel: +32 (0)3 315 70 52  -  Fax: +32 (0)3 315 00 87  -  info@proefcentrum.be
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