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ASFMRA visits Strawberry Center

ASFMRA visits Strawberry Center

Oct 23, 2023

A group of 50 members of the California Chapter of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers (ASFMRA) visited recently for a tour of the Strawberry Center. The ASFMRA is the premier association for rural property professionals, focusing on empowering members through accreditation, professional advancement, education, networking and public policy. The tour group was treated to multiple stops at Cal Poly, including the Frost Center, ITRC (Irrigation Training and Research Center), the Dairy/Creamery, Grimm Family Center for Organic Production and Research and the Justin and J. Lohr Center for Wine and Viticulture.

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Center students host booth at annual Great AGventure

Center students host booth at annual Great AGventure

Oct 18, 2023

For the second year in a row, our team hosted an exhibit at the annual Great AGventure, held last week at the Paso Robles Events Center. This annual event provides an educational, hands-on agriculture field day for local 4th graders, who rotate through presentations covering subject areas such as farm animals, farm machinery, crops, science and an “AG-tivity”.

Strawberry Center students Colette Smith (MS, Ag Education), Marina Gutierrez (BS, Animal Science) and Bailey Frost (BS, Ag Business) hosted the exhibit, providing a presentation and interactive activities for the kids. Among other things, they demonstrated Phytophthora detection Immuno-strips, allowed close inspection of plants affected by powdery mildew, and passed around petri dishes with various fungi that affect strawberry plants. Thank you to Colette, Marina, and Bailey for creating such a wonderful opportunity for local kids to learn about our Center and to the SLO Agricultural Education Committee for hosting this enriching annual event!

Strawberry Center graduate student alums collaborate

Strawberry Center graduate student alums collaborate

Oct 6, 2023

Omar Gonzalez Benitez (Research Associate, UC Davis Strawberry Breeding Program) delivered a guest lecture to CSU Monterey Bay (CSUMB) students enrolled in Careers in Agriculture, a course taught by Jack Koster (Lecturer, CSUMB). Both Omar (MS, 2020) and Jack (MS, 2022) are former Center graduate students. According to Jack, "It was awesome to see Omar again and host him for a lecture. The students were very engaged and curious, asking him a lot of questions about the world of plant breeding". Omar shared with the students a bit about the Center and his MS work as well.

We love seeing our former students working together professionally!

Senior Automation Engineer Mojtaba Ahmadi participates in FIRA USA panel discussion

Oct 3, 2023

Mojtaba Ahmadi, Senior Production Automation Engineer with the California Strawberry Commission and Cal Poly Strawberry Center, attended last week the 2023 FIRA USA conference event, held in Salinas, CA. Mojtaba served on a four-person panel in the "Practical translation of R&D and technology to the California strawberry industry" panel discussion session. FIRA USA is the largest and only 3-day event for autonomous farming and agricultural robotics solutions, featuring 25+ robots for in-field demos in real conditions for specialty crops, vegetables, vineyards, orchards and more. Learn more about FIRA @
Photo by Russ Kabaker (Mojtaba Ahmadi, second from left in attached photo)

Looking forward to our next growing season!

Looking forward to our next growing season!

Sep 27, 2023

Center student assistant Marina Gutierrez (CAFES, Animal Science major) learned how to operate our John Deere during last week's removal of our 2022 crop in Field 25. The implement she used cuts the plastic mulch down the middle of the bed and digs up the furrows, making it easier to pull the mulch from the ground. It can take up to two passes in our heavy clay soil to complete this job.

Recent ASHS podcast episode on California strawberries

Recent ASHS podcast episode on California strawberries

Sep 21, 2023

The American Society for Horticultural Science has a podcast called “Plants, People, Science”. Take a listen to Episode 7 (The Sweet and the Not-so-Sweet of the U.S. Strawberry Industry) where Gerald Holmes (Strawberry Center, Director) discusses many aspects of the California strawberry industry, including robotics, labor, organic production, diseases, fumigation and more. 
FYI: Gerald's interview begins after the podcast introductory segment @ about 6:15 minutes on the timeline.
Listen to this episode online or on Apple, Spotify, Amazon Music, iHeart radio, Google, Podchaser, and more.

Team attends Strawberry Production Meeting

Team attends Strawberry Production Meeting

Sep 19, 2023

Several members of our pathology team attended the 22nd UC-ANR Annual Strawberry Production Meeting, held in Ventura County on 12 September. The Strawberry Center was represented by Sam Simard and Joseph Ramirez (M.S. students), Lawson Orradre (Field technician), Kyle Blauer (Field Research manager), Shashika Hewavitharana (Center pathology program leader) and Gerald Holmes (Center director). Shashika and Joseph delivered presentations about Center research projects and findings.

Learn about increasing fungicide resistance in our latest research blog post

Learn about increasing fungicide resistance in our latest research blog post

Sep 14, 2023

Our latest research blog post discusses a new publication that points to some upward trends that should be concerning to California strawberry growers, PCAs and fungicide registrants. Resistance is increasing to most active fungicide ingredients, with increases in multiple resistance observed as well.

Learn more @

Test your strawberry flower anatomy skills, Part 3

Test your strawberry flower anatomy skills, Part 3

Sep 7, 2023

How does calyx size and shape affect strawberry color and susceptibility to decay? 

The architecture of the calyx (or cap) on strawberries is an important feature to consider. If the calyx is large, it will trap moisture and promote decay (far left). If it is excessively reflexed, it looks a bit odd (far right). The perfect fruit would have a small to moderately sized calyx that is slightly reflexed as opposed to appressed (center). This will give the freshness color indicator while not promoting decay.

Watch our short video to learn more about strawberry plant anatomy!

We are proud of our partnership with GleanSLO

We are proud of our partnership with GleanSLO

Sep 1, 2023

A food rescue program of the San Luis Obispo (SLO) Food Bank, GleanSLO has been rescuing produce from local farms and backyards in SLO County for over 12 years. To date, the group has rescued over 2.8 million pounds of produce from local farms, orchards, backyards, and farmers’ markets that would have otherwise gone to waste. Donors with extra produce contact their team who will mobilize a group of volunteers to meet up and harvest the extra produce. This collected produce is donated to the SLO Food Bank and distributed via local programs and hunger relief networks to those in need throughout the local community.

Thank you for your amazing work, GleanSLO!

Learn more about GleanSLO @







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Field Day 2024

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