Strawberries

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Growing Strawberries

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Grapes
Bush Berries
Strawberries
Strawberry Harvest and Problems

 

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Companion Planting
Grapes and Berries
Pepper Paradise
Tomato Fever
Late Summer Chores
Saving Seeds
Harvesting Tips

High yields of quality strawberries require vigorous growth and healthy plants. Growth can be affected by many different factors such as soil fertility, lack of moisture, weeds, insects, and diseases. 

 

Growers can control all of these factors, while certain factors, such as weather conditions, cannot be controlled. Growers can also control plant growth characteristics, productivities, and blossom hardiness by selecting different varieties. 

 

A sound strawberry production program should include the control of all pests and the use of good cultural practices. A total program replaces most of the “luck factor” and results in excellent crop production yearly.


Selecting Strawberry Plants


June-Bearers vs. Day-Neutral Types

HONEYOEstraw.jpg (120x118 -- 4806 bytes)Strawberry plants may be of two major types, June-bearing or day-neutral. June-bearing plants are cultured to produce a full crop the season after planting. In most of North America, the ripening season of June-bearing strawberry cultivars ranges from late May to the end of June. Day-neutral type strawberry plants differ from the standard or June-bearing types in that they produce a full crop the first season they are planted. June-bearing types are most popular for the home garden and commercial use and are well worth waiting for because of their flavor and quality. One cannot tell by looking at the plant whether they are of the day-neutral or June-bearing type; therefore, when purchasing plants, it is important to specify which type is desired. It is certainly a good idea to plant both types to get fruit production in the first year from day-neutral strawberries, and high yield and quality from June-bearing strawberries.

Cultivar Selection

Home fruit growers have a large number of cultivars (varieties) to select from. The selection is much greater for the June-bearing types than for the day-neutral types. Recommended strawberry cultivars listed in the table below.

It is important to know the ripening season, yield, berry size, freezing quality, and dessert quality of recommended cultivars in order to select cultivars according to personal needs. In addition, selecting disease resistant cultivars will help growers reduce the risks of damage from plant diseases. Refer to the last three columns in the table for the disease resistance of the recommended strawberry cultivars. Don't hesitate to check with Extension Agents or local commercial strawberry growers for additional information about strawberry cultivars in your area.

Strawberry Varieties and Disease Resistance

 

Processing
Quality

Leaf
Spot

Red
Stele

Verticillium
Wilt

Variety

Season

Yield

Size

All Star

Midseason

Mod. to High

Large

NA

S-T

R

R-T

Cardinal

Midseason

Low

Large

Good

R

S

S

Catskill

Midseason

Low

Large

Fair

S-R

S

VR

Chandler

Midseason

Moderate

Very Large

Good

U

U

U

Delite

Late

High

Large

NA

S-R

R

R

Earliglow

Early

Mod. to High

Medium

Very Good

I-R

I-R

I-R

Guardian

Midseason

Mod. to High

Large

Fair

S-I

R

R

Honeoye

Midseason

High

Medium

Good

S-T

S

S

Jewel

Midseason

Mod. to High

Medium

NA

U

S

S

Midway

Midseason

High

Medium

Very Good

VS

R

S-R

Ozark Beauty

Everbearing

Low to Mod.

Medium

Good

R

S

S

Pochontas

Midseason

Moderate

Large

Very Good

S-R

S

S-I

Quinalt

Everbearing

Low to Mod.

Medium

Fair

R

R

U

Red Chief

Midseason

High

Medium

Very Good

S

R

I-R

Robinson

Late

Low

Large

Poor

S-I

S

R

Sparkle

Late

Low

Medium

Very Good

S-R

R

S-I

Sunrise

Early

Low

Small

Fair

VS

R

I-R

Sure Crop

Midseason

Low

Medium

Good

I-R

R

VR

Tn Beauty

Late

Low

Small

Good

S-R

S

I-R

Tribute

Everbearing

High

Large

Good

T

R

T-R

Tristar

Everbearing

Moderate

Medium

Good

T

R

R

VS-Very Susceptible  S-Susceptible  T-Tolerant I-Intermediate  R-Resistant
VR-Very Resistant  U-Unknown

 

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Planting and Renovating Strawberry Patches


Planting Strawberries

 

Early spring is the best time to plant strawberry plants as long as soil is not too wet. Fall planting is not recommended because plants can be injured by soil heaving (alternate freezing and thawing). Strawberry plants have roots, a crown, and leaves. The crown is a short stem between the roots and leaves.

strawplanting.gif (175x171 -- 4376 bytes)
Parts of the strawberry

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From left to right, planting is too shallow,
just right and too deep, respectively.

When planting, make sure to cover the roots and only half of the crown with soil. Make a trench deep enough to set the roots vertically. Do not bend roots horizontally.

June-bearing plants are spaced 12 to 24 inches apart. On close-spaced plants, runners are controlled by removing unwanted runners during the first season. In August, rows should be 18 to 24 inches wide with plants 6 to 8 inches apart in the row. Generally rows are 36 to 40 inches apart. A circular terrace can be used if one has limited space.  

Weed Control: Regular cultivation, mulching, and certain herbicides are suited to maintain essentially weed-free planting. Mechanical cultivation and mulches are recommended.  

Lime and Fertilizers: Soil testing every two to three years is highly recommended for the best yield and quality. Apply nutrients and lime (if needed) prior to planting according to soil test results. Apply 1 ounce (10 oz. 10-10-10) of actual nitrogen broadcast per 100 square feet of plant or 0.5 ounce (5 oz. 10-10-10) banned 4 to 6 inches away from the plants 7 to 10 days after planting. Apply 1 to 1.5 ounces actual nitrogen broadcast in mid-June if rainfall has been excessive and again in mid-August. In the fruiting years, apply 1 to 1.5 ounces actual nitrogen broadcast after harvest and again in mid-August.  

Blossom Removal: Remove the flower stalks of June-bearing strawberry plants as they appear throughout the first growing season. More production can be expected if the plants are allowed to attain large size before fruiting. Remove the blossoms of day-neutral types of plants as they appear until about the middle of June (first year only). Then allow flowers to set fruit for harvest during the remainder of the season (August through October).

Irrigation: Additional watering is needed during dry seasons. Plants require 1 inch to 1.5 inches of water per week from mid-June to mid-August. Take care in watering so that the soil does not remain soggy for any prolonged period.

Winter Mulching: In addition to value for weed control, mulching is necessary to provide winter protection for the plants. Apply straw that is free of weed seeds two to three inches deep over the plants after they have been subjected to several sharp freezes in the low 30s or high 20s in fall. This is generally between November 15 and 30, but no later than December 15.

Frost Protection: Strawberry flower buds are very susceptible to spring frosts. Mulches used for winter protection should be pulled from plants in early spring, before there is much leaf yellowing. The mulch should be left in the alleyways and can be used to cover blossoms in the spring when frost is predicted, especially with early cultivars, such as Earliglow. Frost protection could be the difference between a good crop and no crop.

Spacing for Strawberries

There are two major spacing techniques used to achieve the best fruit production for different types of strawberries - "row" systems and "hill" systems..

"Row" Spacing Systems

Matted Row Systems: This system is the best for growing June-bearing cultivars. In this system, the strawberry plants should be set eighteen to thirty inches apart in rows three to four feet apart. Daughter plants are allowed to root freely to become a matted row no wider than two feet.

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Spaced-Row Systems: This system limits the number of daughter plants that grow from a mother plant. The mother plants are set eighteen to thirty inches apart in rows three to four feet apart. The daughter plants are spaced to root no closer than four inches apart. All other runners are pulled or cut from the mother plants. Even though more care is needed under this system, advantages include higher yields, larger berries and fewer disease problems.

For day-neutral strawberries, plants are set 8 to 12 inches apart in the row with 30 to 36 inches between rows. Remove runners throughout the first season and remove flowers for the first 6 weeks after planting. Mulch the planting with 3 to 4 inches of straw or wood chips to conserve moisture.

"Hill" System: This is the best system for growing day-neutral and ever bearing strawberries. In this system all the runners are removed so only the original mother plant remains. Removing the runners causes the mother plant to develop more crowns and flower stalks. Multiple rows are arranged in groups of two, three or four plants with a two foot walkway between each group of rows. Plants are set about one foot apart in multiple rows. During the first two or three weeks of growth, the planting should be weeded; then the bed should be mulched.

Renovation of Strawberries After Harvest

Strawberry plants can be fruited more than one year but probably not for more than three harvest seasons, depending on the vigor and number of plants. June-bearing strawberries should be renovated every year right after harvest if one desires excellent fruit production for more than one year.

Generally, strawberries do better in the second year.  For a consistent harvest, plant two beds one year apart. You will have one flourishing every year while the other is making ready for next year.

First control weeds by mechanical means or labeled herbicides. Remove all old leaves with a mower or a sickle. Make sure to set the mower as high as the blade will go to avoid injuring plant crowns. Narrow the rows to a width of about 12 inches by cultivating between them with a rotary tiller. Thin the plants within each row, leaving 4 to 6 inches between plants. Top-dress beds with 0.5 to 1 inch of soil. Broadcast 2.5 pounds of 10-10-10 fertilizer per 100 square feet of planting. Apply 1 inch of water each week to promote growth if it does not rain. The strawberry patch may look very depressing right after renovation (Figure 5). However, strawberry plants do recover beautifully (Figure 6) and will be much more productive.

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