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Elevated CO2 Enhances Spring Growth in Strawberry Plants
Bushway, L.J. and Pritts, M.P.  2002.  Enhancing early spring microclimate to increase carbon resources and productivity in June-bearing strawberry.  Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science 127: 415-422.

What was done
As one of many cultural treatments, over-wintering strawberry plants (Fragaria x ananassa Duch.) were grown in environmental chambers receiving ambient (375 ppm) and elevated (700 to 1000 ppm) atmospheric CO2 concentrations for about six weeks until new blooms began to form on plants, after which they were moved to a common greenhouse receiving ambient CO2 concentrations.  Thus, the authors studied the effects of early spring atmospheric CO2 enrichment on strawberry photosynthesis and growth, as well as subsequent berry production and yield.

What was learned
Elevated CO2 stimulated rates of photosynthesis in leaves of over-wintering strawberry plants by more than 50%.  This phenomenon led to significantly greater amounts of starch in key plant organs when new spring growth began.  Indeed, plants grown in elevated CO2 had two-, three- and four-times the amount of starch in their crowns, leaves and roots, respectively, than their ambiently-grown counterparts.  In addition, plants grown in elevated CO2 flowered and fruited an average of four and seven days earlier than plants grown in ambient air, respectively.  Finally, yield per plant was increased by 62% due to atmospheric CO2 enrichment.

What it means
As the air's CO2 content increases, it is likely that over-wintering strawberry plants will exhibit enhanced rates of photosynthesis and starch production, which will support more rapid and extensive growth in the spring.  Such increases in carbohydrate availability at this critical time should allow strawberry plants in a CO2-enriched world to produce greater numbers of fruit per plant, thus increasing marketable berry yields.

Reviewed 22 May 2002