Book Review

The Strawberries book review given here is for the text by Dr. Jim F. Hancock.

Strawberries, by Dr. J. F. Hancock, copyright 1999 by CAB International, is part of a Crop Production Science in Horticulture series. Dr. Hancock is a student of the legendary Dr. Royce S. Bringhurst (to whom the book is dedicated).

While this work is a college-level textbook, it is nevertheless an easy enough read that virtually anyone can understand it. Of course, there are some portions of the text that are easier to comprehend (and of more general interest) than others, but there is plenty to recommend this book to almost all strawberry lovers. It is basically "must reading" for anyone who wants to become a full-time strawberry grower.

There are several especially strong points to mention in this Strawberries book review. Chapter 6, "Cultural Systems", gives a very nice basic explanation of the different major systems of strawberry culture, that is, ways of growing strawberries.

Chapter 8, "Pest and Disease Management", is truly extraordinary. The details are given on the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of many different things that harm strawberry plants, and often there are drawings or photos for further clarity. In fact, Dr. Hancock has included a great many photos, drawings, graphs, tables, and diagrams throughout the text to better illustrate the concepts covered.

Perhaps most importantly, this book is well-organized! Often unnoticed except when it's missing, nothing is more important to understanding something than a well-organized presentation, one where each new concept is offered in a logical order. Dr. Hancock does not disappoint here.

It is also noted in this Strawberries book review that there are some parts of the book that fewer people will find interesting. In particular, Strawberries follows the lead of other strawberry texts by including a lot of details about individual strawberry varieties, more than most people will likely want.

The volume's coverage of the strawberry's history is rather light relative to many other strawberry-themed books. In regards to this, Hancock writes on page vii of the Preface:

"The third chapter discusses the history of the strawberry. This topic is covered much more extensively in several chapters of Darrow's book and
A History of the Strawberry by S. Wilhelm and J.E. Sagen, but new information is included herein on the development of the Chilean strawberry, Fragaria chiloensis".

Even without any "new information", the more abbreviated history contained in Strawberries may be a better fit for some readers. The history given is good as an introductory history.

Overall, the conclusion of this Strawberries book review is that Strawberries is a really well-written, informative, and useful book.

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The following is a short overview of some of the topics covered in the text:


Preface: A short overview of the contents of the book, as well as a few words of thanks for assistance given during it's writing.

Chapter 1: Some statistics on strawberry production for various countries; information on growing zones for strawberries around the world; and information on which varieties of strawberries grow in different areas around the world.

Chapter 2: The ranges around the world of the native species of strawberries, and the genetic relationships between strawberry species.

Chapter 3: A brief history of the domestication of the strawberry.

Chapter 4: Application of genetic studies to current strawberry breeding, including information regarding the heritablility of commercially valuable traits; the introduction of undomesticated stock into breeding programs; and a little material on genetically-engineered strawberries.

Chapter 5: The structures of strawberries and strawberry plants; effects of temperature and day length on strawberry plant processes, including dormancy and cold hardiness; and carbon dioxide, water, and nutrition/soil requirements for strawberry plants.

Chapter 6: Comparison of basic commercial growing systems for strawberries, with particular emphasis on the two main systems (hill culture and matted-row culture); commercial harvesting; and commercial strawberry plant reproduction (called "propagation").

Chapter 7: Chemical composition of strawberry fruit; fruit growth and ripening; and fruit handling, storage, and processing.

Chapter 8: Strawberry plant diseases and pests, and their management.

References, Colour Plates, and Index.

(Note: this strawberry book review is given simply to introduce strawberry lovers to great writing about strawberries. Please do the right thing and respect all copyrights. Thank you!)

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