Although Gulf Coast Research Center is located in southern Hillsborough County, we found from past experience that strawberry growers tend to feel the center is a little removed from the action, which is located in Plant City. Therefore, in order to better serve these growers, we now hold our annual Strawberry Field Day at the Florida Strawberry Growers Association location, which was the former Dover Strawberry Lab.
Back in 1999, I began my career at UF/IFAS at this Dover Strawberry Lab. This 10 acre research facility was just minutes from the Plant City area where the majority of strawberry growers live and work. It was the ideal location and although small, very effective. As the current home of FSGA, area growers still have a resource right in their backyard as we continue performing strawberry research at that location. Breeding, pathology, entomology and weed science research continue to be conducted at the FSGA facility and it is an ideal place to hold our annual field day.
Short and sweet for just a few hours in the afternoon, our faculty give presentations indoors and in the field. The grower response is always positive and research results appreciated. Last week there was about 50 in attendance as faculty discussed new strawberry varieties, pest and disease control research along with weed and fumigation trials. Presentations were also given regarding labor concerns, molecular breeding, pest and plant pathology updates.
Because we work directly for area growers, it is essential for us to accommodate them in whatever manner necessary. So we look forward to “coming home” to the old Dover Strawberry Lab every January or February to share our research on this important Florida commodity.