Onésime Pouliot Farm grew strawberries in a tabletop system for the first time last year. The project wasn’t perfect, but it showed promise. “We will learn. The workers will learn. Everybody will get better over time,” said Joey Boudreault, the farm’s business development manager.

Boudreault, the president of the North American Strawberry Growers Association, spoke on Jan. 30 at the Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention. The Strawberry Association held its annual meeting in Hershey in conjunction with the Mid-Atlantic conference. The strawberry group previously met in Hershey in 2008 and 1979.

Onésime Pouliot Farm grows 150 acres of strawberries in the field. The harvest surges in June with short-day berries and in August with day-neutral varieties. In between, production craters are not ideal when serving customers who need a consistent supply. So the farm set up 3 acres of soilless berries in tunnels last year to fill that hole in July.

The farm used short-day strawberries because it only wanted the berries for the short window, and day-neutral berries would not have had a strong enough yield to fill the gap. The farm also wasn’t interested in growing berries into the fall and early winter. Apples and pumpkins have consumers’ attention then, and by December, Quebec is just too cold for growing strawberries, Boudreault said.

The farm grew 85,000 tray plants of the variety Jive. It’s an attractive, reasonably large, round fruit. The berries in the first picking have white tips, but the following fruits are all red. Significantly, the variety provides three big weeks of harvest with a small week at either end. “That works perfectly to fill the gap that we had in our production,” Boudreault said.

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