Friends of the Arboretum Lecture

"Taking 'a Go' at Strawberry Plasticulture in 1980, Where It Has Led the Strawberry Industry in the Mid-south, and Where the North Carolina Strawberry Industry May Be Going Next"
E. Barclay Poling, Professor Emeritus and Small Fruit Specialist, Department of Horticultural Science, NC State University

  • Thursday, May 19, 2011 – 7:30 pm9:00 pm

The gist of the 40 minute talk will be how plasticulture has kindled an entirely new strawberry industry in North Carolina and throughout the mid-South over the last 3 decades; the strawberry industry in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Georgia is worth 60 million dollars now and it just keeps growing! Most of the strawberry growers in North Carolina today market their strawberries directly to the public, and our state has more U-pick strawberry farms than any state in the nation. Strawberries have been instrumental in helping many N.C. tobacco farmers to successfully diversify their operations and to keep their sons and daughters involved in farming. Because of new research at NC State that was sponsored by the Tobacco Trust Foundation, we are seeing an exciting new opportunity for farmers in western North Carolina to grow and market fall season strawberries using day neutral strawberries with white plastic mulch beds and low tunnel structures that keep frosts and freezes away in late fall. Using this new system, it will be possible to pick very flavorful strawberries from the Upper Mountains of North Carolina from late September through Thanksgiving!

How has plasticulture impacted other fruit crops? Look no further than North Carolina's blueberry, blackberry, and muscadine grape industries to see how these growers are now using black plastic to control weeds in new plantings (without chemicals) and better manage soil moisture (with the drip irrigation beneath the plastic mulch). Barclay Poling will also share his ideas on how plasticulture technology, row covers and low volume sprinklers (micro-sprinklers) can transform your home garden!

After the lecture, we will sample a new day neutral strawberry 'Albion' that is, according to Barclay, the best thing he's eaten since 'Fletcher', a very flavorful heirloom variety that was once grown in upstate New York.

Barclay Poling did his graduate work at Cornell, where he was a student in the Pomology and Viticulture Department, from 1975-1979, and in January 1980 he began his work in North Carolina as an assistant professor with his primary duties as an Extension small fruit specialist, but he also taught and assisted with the Youth Horticulture program, NJHA. In 1982, his assignment changed to small fruit Extension and research, and he remained in that until retiring in December 2010 (31 years). The chancellor has told him that, "he is too young to retire" (current age 57), so he does lots of pro bono work as an advisor to the NC Strawberry Association, and he is still cranking out his 24/7 "Berry Alerts," which help strawberry farmers manage pests and all kinds of crazy weather! It's no wonder they call strawberries "a weather crop" when you consider that a typical spring season will have over a dozen frosts and some of these cold events can have "real teeth."

Free for Friends of the JC Raulston Arboretum members, NC State University students (with ID), and Department of Horticultural Science faculty and staff, all others $5.00.
Advance registration is not available.
Ruby C. McSwain Education Center, JC Raulston Arboretum at NC State University, 4415 Beryl Road, Raleigh, North Carolina.
Need directions? Click here.
Free parking is available at the JC Raulston Arboretum and along Beryl Road.
Please call (919) 513-7005 for more information about this lecture.