Tucumán leads the production and export of organic strawberries

15 Sep 2022

From INTA they accompany the sector with management guidelines and recommendations with an agroecosystem approach. That is, consider both the crop and beneficial insects and mites, entomopathogens and pollinators, weeds, and soil microorganisms. Biological control of pests and resistant varieties, among the strategies to face productive challenges.

Faced with the new demands for food produced from a sustainable vision with an adequate management of natural resources, specialists from INTA Famaillá –Tucumán– accompany the organic production of strawberries with technology and knowledge with an agroecosystem approach.

Daniel Kirschbaum, INTA’s national benchmark for strawberries, stated: “The area of ​​organic strawberries cultivated in Argentina amounts to approximately 300 hectares, and Tucumán leads this category.” In addition, he explained that “30% of national production is exported frozen, 70% of which comes from this province.”

With the focus on obtaining quality food, “from INTA we propose management with an agroecosystem approach that involves all its components,” Kirschbaum said.

For this, he added, it is necessary to observe not only the crop, but also beneficial insects and mites, entomopathogens, and pollinators. As well as weeds, a refuge for beneficial insects that contribute to the biodiversity of the agroecosystem, and soil microorganisms, which control diseases, mineralize organic matter, stimulate root growth and fix atmospheric nitrogen.

In addition, the coordinator stressed that INTA is constantly evaluating strawberry varieties in terms of yield, earliness, fruit quality, and also their behavior against the main pests and diseases to determine resistance or susceptibility to the same.

In this sense, INTA Famaillá works to control pests such as the red spider mite (Tetrannychus urticae), the main cause of delayed growth, decreased production and quality in young plants. The San Andreas variety, one of the most cultivated in Tucumán, is susceptible to it.

In addition, information is generated on the control alternatives that are least at odds with the environment and health, always seeking to maintain the balance of the agroecosystem.

The specialist maintained: “The excessive use of synthetic agrochemicals for its control is not effective and leads to the appearance of populations resistant to the pest. For this reason, with the use of tolerant varieties, an adequate management of nutrition and biopesticides, the red spider mite can be controlled in a sustainable way”.

These studies carried out by INTA made it possible to determine groups of low, medium and high varietal susceptibility, where the Fronteras, Petaluma and Merced varieties stood out among the latter. “Knowledge of the varietal preference of the pest contributes to its early detection and the choice of the control strategy according to the needs,” added Kirschbaum.

Likewise, the varieties San Andreas and Rociera, highly spread in Argentina, are significantly tolerant to the disease caused by the Neopestalotiopsis fungus. The incidence of this increased in recent years, and can cause from mild damage to the death of the plant.

Also, one must be aware of the richness and abundance of biological pest control agents present in the strawberry crop, whether conventional, agroecological or organic, explained Kirschbaum.

In previous studies carried out by the inter-institutional group of the Faculty of Agronomy and Zootechnics of the National University of Tucumán (UNT) and INTA, it was verified that hoverflies, predatory flies of small insects, feed on whiteflies, spider mites and thrips, the main pests. of the strawberry crop, continued the specialist.

When the pressure of a certain pest or disease increases to risky levels for the crop, due to climatic imbalances or crop management, control tools of a biological nature are used. These can be bioinsecticides, biofungicides and biostimulants and even releases of beneficial insects or mites, which are compatible with sustainable agricultural production.

In the same sense, it is important to identify the main soil pathogens that affect strawberry seedlings in order to prevent future infestations in healthy lots. The objective of this is to work on the evolution towards lands infested with the key pathogens of the crop.

Kirschbaum noted that organic foods are sought after for two big reasons. In the first place, because they are perceived as healthier foods compared to conventional ones, that is, they are free of residues of synthetic chemical products; and for being produced with low impact techniques on the environment and generation of a smaller environmental footprint.

Source: Argentina.gob