Two visiting professors from Spain have visited Benguet State University recently and provided special lectures about their researches on strawberry and nursery management to graduate students, researchers, and faculty members.
Dr. Pedro Palencia Garcia and Dr. Fatima Martinez Ruiz from Universidad de Oviedo and Universidad de Huelva, respectively, worked with Dr. Leoncia A. Tandang, Dean of College of Agriculture; Dr. Danilo D. Padua, BSU faculty and expert on strawberry research and development; and Dr. Janet P. Pablo, chair of the Department of Plant Breeding during their stay.
Dr. Martinez Ruiz, who is an assistant professor in the University of Huelva specializing in the field of agronomy and plant pathology, in her lecture about the strawberry postharvest technology in Spain” said that strawberry is one of the most important crops in Huelva with more than 7,000 hectares with production of 261,263 metric tons. Almost 80 percent of the produce are being exported.
Martinez-Ruiz said that Huelva’s strawberry cropping system uses the most modern techniques of cultivation such as localized irrigation, fertigation, and optimum density of plantation.
She added that strawberry varieties in Huelva are extremely susceptible to soil borne pathogens since it is grown in the same place year after year, with no rotation. This is the reason why soil disinfection has become an essential technique for controlling such pathogens.
The Martinez-Ruiz also emphasized on the advantages of soilless growing systems as it is being practiced in Huelva, adding that the system contributes to the improvement of crop yields and quality; conserve energy and water; and reduce the application of chemicals.
Collection of the fruit is very comfortable as the fruit remains at a comfortable height for picking; and others.
The lecture also highlighted various techniques in handling postharvest problems in strawberry, especially in addressing physiological disorders and mechanical damages.
Various strategies employed included the decrease of metabolic activity with a consequent delay of fruit deterioration and maintenance of nutritional value; and the reduction of pathogen activity and a lower incidence of problems deriving from them.
Also, the reduction of fruit transpiration, minimizing loss of weight, glossiness loss, and shriveling was listed as an effective postharvest strategy.
Garcia said the average farm size of one strawberry farmer in Huelva is 10 hectares to gain more profit from the farm.
Aside from imparting their knowledge, the Spanish professors will also be sharing their expertise in plant breeding, propagation, and nursery management during their stay. They will collaborate with BSU’s pool of experts on current strawberry research undertakings and conceptualize possible future projects with local experts.