Bernadine Strik, Whose Insights Helped Blueberries Thrive, Dies at 60

Bernadine Strik, a horticulture professor at Oregon State University whose progressive cultivation methods shook up the American blueberry trade, died on April 14 at a hospital in Corvallis, Ore. She was 60.

The trigger was issues of ovarian most cancers, mentioned her husband, Neil Bell.

Modern farming is as a lot science as labor, and Dr. Strik, whose profession at Oregon State started in 1987, introduced a skeptical, scientific method to blueberry cultivation.

But she had additionally grown up together with her palms within the filth — her mother and father owned a nursery and landscaping enterprise — so she had a powerful sense of the sensible calls for farmers face.

“She was in a position to join with the growers,” Scott Lukas, who took on Oregon State’s endowed professorship for Northwest berry manufacturing after Dr. Strik retired in 2021, mentioned in a cellphone interview. She might view analysis “from that down-to-earth perspective,” he added, “and be a human about it and never get misplaced within the science.”

Blueberries have been systematically cultivated within the United States since early within the twentieth century. But demand has grown in latest many years as scientists have trumpeted the fruit’s well being advantages and as packaged kinds — frozen, pureed, freeze-dried, powdered — have made it extra accessible.

The United States was the most important producer of blueberries till 2021, when it was surpassed by China, in response to a report final month from the Agriculture Department’s Foreign Agricultural Service.

When Dr. Strik started inspecting Oregon’s blueberry trade, she discovered that growers positioned vegetation 4 ft aside in rows as a result of they thought that the dimensions of mature bushes required that a lot room. She additionally noticed that blueberry vegetation had been grown standing free, with out trellises, and that sawdust was generally used as mulch as a result of it was low-cost and efficient at killing weeds.

In a sequence of research that took years to finish, Dr. Strik discovered that altering these practices might enhance harvests, in response to a 2021 profile on the Oregon Blueberry Commission’s web site.

Blueberry vegetation spaced about three ft aside, she found, produced 50 % larger yields as they grew, with out reducing yields as soon as they matured. Using trellises prevented the lack of a median of 4 to eight % of a blueberry crop throughout machine harvesting. And utilizing weed mats — materials, usually artificial, overlaying the bottom round vegetation — along with sawdust elevated yields by as much as 10 %, even when weeds had been successfully managed by the sawdust.

“It was merely due to the change the weed mat did to the soil temperature,” she mentioned.

Dr. Strik helped natural growers maximize their yields by planting on raised beds as an alternative of flat floor, a method that additionally benefited typical farms. She persuaded many berry producers, in Oregon and past, to just accept her analysis and undertake her measures.

The federal Agriculture Research Service, a part of the Agriculture Department, mentioned in a information launch in 2022 that “the berry crop industries in Oregon and all over the world have all benefited from Strik’s analysis.”

Because of that analysis, the company mentioned, “yields throughout improvement years have elevated dramatically, and natural manufacturing has elevated from lower than 2 % to greater than 20 % of Oregon acreage.”

Bernadine Cornelia Strik was born in The (*60*) on April 29, 1962, to Gerald and Christine (Alkemade) Strik.

In 1965, the Striks moved to Tantanoola, a small city in South Australia, the place her father labored in forestry. But they bored with the warmth, and in 1971 the household moved to Canada and opened a nursery and landscaping enterprise in Qualicum Beach, on Vancouver Island.

After graduating from highschool, Dr. Strik earned a bachelor’s diploma from the University of Victoria on Vancouver Island in 1983. She accomplished her doctorate in horticulture at the University of Guelph in Ontario in 1987. Soon after that she took a job at Oregon State in Corvallis.

One of her college students there was Mr. Bell, who got here to Oregon State in 1990 to review for his grasp’s in horticulture. They married in 1994.

In addition to her husband, with whom she lived in Monmouth, Ore., she is survived by their daughters, Shannon and Nicole Bell.

In 2021, the yr she retired, Dr. Strik was named a fellow of the International Society for Horticultural Science and received the Duke Galletta Award for Excellence in Horticultural Research from the North American Blueberry Council.

Her two dozen graduate college students had been an essential a part of her legacy, Mr. Lukas mentioned. He famous that Dr. Strik had imparted not simply educational rigor but in addition the power to speak virtually and successfully — a talent he referred to as “a science in itself.”

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