Report #2: Strawberries
Pathway: The strawberry belongs to the family Rosaceae, genus Fragaria. They are one of the most widely consumed fruit throughout the world. This fruit can grow pretty much anywhere except places with extreme climate change. The United States is the largest producer of strawberries in the world. The U.S. strawberry growers mostly use fields to grow this perennial crop whereas other places use mostly greenhouses due to shorter growing seasons. The strawberries that we can buy from Hy-Vee here in Cedar Rapids come from California. California is the number one producer of this fruit in America and accounts for about 80% of the total U.S. strawberry production. As for the path that it fallows when talking about the strawberries they we can get from our local store it starts in California fields where the strawberries are grown. The process starts in different nurseries usually in the northern colder climates because young strawberry plants thrive in those conditions. The commercial farmers buy their “crowns” from these places because it takes usually about two to three months longer to grow a strawberry plant from a seed. These crowns are then shipped south to California where in late August most strawberry producers begin preparing their land the new planting of strawberries. Even though strawberry plants are perennial, most strawberry farmers use them as annuals so they can grow more in a shorter amount of time. After all the strawberries have been harvested, the land is fertilized and plowed. After fertilization and plowing, the soil is mounded, placed into rows and covered with black or white plastic. Usually, when the plastic is laid, drip tape irrigation is simultaneously placed in the ground. These tasks are accomplished with a specialized tractor-machine. The drip tape will be used to water and fertilize the strawberry plants as they grow and produce fruit. After the ground is raised and covered, the plants must be planted. This is done by hand, usually about two weeks after the plastic cover has been laid. To do this a tractor is used to mechanically punch holes in the plastic. Workers usually either ride or follow behind the tractor and place plugs into the punched holes. This process usually takes the longest amount of time do to the face that they have to be planted by hand. Strawberries grow and ripen fast and must be picked everyday on a strawberry farm. The next step in the process is picking the ripe fruit. The number of workers required to pick differs from farm to farm, but a general average amount of workers is about 65 to 70 workers. As each picker moves from plant to plant they pick the ripe red strawberries and pack them into plastic containers right in the field. They then take their harvest to a waiting refrigerated truck where they will then be taken to a cooling facility. This is the most important step in the process because they are highly perishable and if they are not refrigerated quickly it will reduce the number of fruit that will make it to the store. From the cooling facility it is shipped all the way here to Iowa and all around the country. The distance that these strawberries are shipped is about 1,820 miles. To put that is perspective if a truck gets about 20 miles a gallon that’s about 180 gallons of gas round trip. That also doesn’t include the gas it takes to deliver the strawberries to the shipping facility and back. Some of the inputs that commercial producers rely on include preplant fumigation with methyl bromide, plastic mulch, drip irrigation, preplant chilling, fertilization with slow-release nutrients, synthetic pesticides and hand labor throughout the season. Some of the outputs include runoff of pesticides, air emissions from the trucks, tractors, cooling facilities, and the plants themselves. Other outputs could include habitat loss due to the space needed to grow strawberries, waste from the different things used such as the plastic...
Cited: Castillo, Cassandra A. "The Phaseout of Methyl Bromide | Ozone Layer Protection - Regulatory Programs | US EPA." EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, 25 Jan. 12. Web. 05 Mar. 2013. This is a government funded website and the articles author was not included in the article. I then contacted the EPA to find out who the author was. They told me her name was Cassandra A. Castillo. and the when this specific article was written. All information is factually correct and the charts are also easy to understand. The article was written about the phasing out of methyl bromide and the time table of it.
Charles, Dan. "The Secret Life Of California 's World-Class Strawberries." NPR. NPR, 17 May 2012. Web. 05 Mar. 2013. The author of this article interviews different established farmers that are experts in their area. All information can be verified with a simple click that shows the sources. all information is factually correct and is relatively recent (2012). There is no advertising and it does not seem to have specific commercial or political interest.
Roberti, Jane C. "Strawberries." Agriculture in the Classroom. N.p., June 2011. Web. 5 Mar. 2013. The author is clearly stated at the top of the page and has a Ph.D. in agricultural sciences. All resources are posted at the bottom of the page and on the main page there is a link to a list of all resources used. There is no sponsors shown but it does say it is funded by private donations which means that it could be biased but it does not seem that way through the page I used. This article was written to act as a fact sheet for teachers to use in the classroom.
Schloemann, Sonia, and Richard A. Bonanno. STRAWBERRY RENOVATION. Publication. 9th ed. Vol. 17. New York: Umass Berry Notes, 2009. New York Berry News. 06 Nov. 2010. Web. 05 Mar. 2013. The authors of this article include a small fruit specialist and horticulturists from the University of Massachusetts. This report was published in New York Berry News. The information was all factual and the resources used were all clearly listed during and at the end of the article. (Reprinted from: New York Berry News, Vol. 4 No. 7, July 15, 2009. Original printing in: UMASS Berry Notes, Vol. 17, No.9, July 8, 2009) This article was written to explain the process of matter row farming. There is not advertising on this page and it does not seem if it is linked to commercial or political interest.
Sideman, Eric. "Organic Strawberry Production." Organic Strawberry Production. N.p., 23 Nov. 2011. Web. 05 Mar. 2013. The author has a ph.d. and shows a great understanding of strawberry production. There is a link that takes you to a page with his personal bio. Sources are listed at the bottom of the page and all information is grammatically and spelled correctly. The chart in this article is somewhat easy to understand. This article was originally written for newspaper "The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener". It seems to be political and commercial interest free.
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