Strawberries

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There are two different types of strawberries, June bearing and Everbearing (day-neutral). June bearers will produce one large crop lasting about 2 to 4 weeks in the spring. They are planted the first year and produce a full crop the second year. If properly cared for, they can produce for up to 3-7 years. Everbearing strawberries can produce berries virtually all summer and fall up until frost. The total number of strawberries picked off an Everbearer the entire year seldom equals the volume picked off a healthy plot of June bearers.

PLANTING

The correct planting of strawberries is VERY important. It is important for the crown of the root to be planted at the soil level, not below or above with the roots exposed. Also make sure that the roots are not bent. Dig your hole deep enough for the roots to be straight. Plant strawberries at least 4 feet apart and space the plants 1 to 2 feet apart down the row for June Bearers, and 6 inches apart for Everbearers. Do not use a starter fertilizer when planting strawberries, as plant roots are very sensitive and will be burned.

SELECTING A PLANTING SITE

Strawberries can be grown in most soil types, but they must have good drainage. It water pools after a rain, then that is a sign of bad drainage and the chance for diseases and fruit rot will greatly increase. Select an area with full sun most of the day. Also avoid areas prone to spring frosts. Do not plant strawberries in the same ground were they had been previously grown. Wait at last 3 to 4 years before replanting in the same site.

JUNE BEARERS-FIRST YEAR CARE

After planting, the plant will produce flowers. These flowers should be pinched or cut off. By not letting the first year plants fruit they will produce more runners earlier in the season. These runners need to be pulled into the row and then they “peg” or grow roots and become new plants. You should try to have a new plant every 6 inches in every direction in a matted row that is 12 to 18 inches wide. Allowing plants to be closer than 6 inches will crowd the plants and they will produce smaller and less fruit. DO NOT ALLOW YOUR PLANTING TO OVERPOPULATE. Keep weeds under control, and place runners were you want them In the late fall of the first year you should cover your planting with a straw mulch. This protects them from cold winters, moderating the temperature. Mulch until you can no longer see any of the green through the covering. You should mulch after the third evening of A HARD frost or freeze. Usually just after Thanksgiving in most northern states. It is all right to mulch over frozen ground.

JUNE BEARERS-SECOND YEAR CARE

Remove the straw mulch in early spring (when growth starts). DO NOT allow plants to turn yellow under the straw. Remove the straw by parting it slightly allowing for a narrow row 12 to 18 inches wide to grow up through the mulch. Keeping the parted straw up against the narrow row will allow the fruit to sit on the straw bed while ripening. This will create a barrier to protect the fruit from rain splashing dirt up onto the fruit. This is important as many of the fruit rots come from the soil.. The thick straw mulch between rows will also help in weed control. DO NOT apply fertilizer in the spring as it will soften the fruit. Remember that frosts can will the blossoms, and to protect your plants with row covers. We sell row covers by the foot, or in pre-cut packages. Small green fruit are seldom affected by frosts. Keep the planting well watered while the fruit is ripening (1 inch per week). Make sure to pick ripe berries, unpicked berries will attract beetles. Pick every 2 to 3 days at maximum ripeness. It is normal for berry size to decrease as the season goes on. The later fruit is smaller but the flavor is usually great.

Rejuvenating your patch after harvesting is very important. First mow the leaves off. DO NOT MOW SO LOW THAT YOU DAMAGE THE CROWNS. Trimming off the old leaves will decrease the disease problems for the rest of the summer. Second, lightly fertilize your patch with an equal analysis fertilizer such as Anderson’s 16-16-16 at 2 lbs. per 100 spare feet. Third, till between the rows narrowing down the row to 10 to 12 inches. This is a very hard process for many people as they think they are destroying their patch. Thinning the rows will ensure a longer lasting, producing patch.

EVERBEARERS

This type is grown differently than June bearers. You can harvest a crop the first year after planting. Most people remove the first set of blossoms form the newly planted plant. This allows the plant to become better established before trying to produce fruit. After removal of the first blossoms, straw mulch around the plants to provide a nice bed for the fruit to lie on. Remove most of the runners that form so as not to overpopulate the bed. Help runners you do want to have root by pushing them through the straw bed to be in contact with the soil. You should be able to harvest three months from planting, harvesting from July until frost the first year.

Everbearers may be planted in hanging baskets, barrels, flower boxes, through plastic mulch and numerous other ways. They can be used on slopes, terraces, even in shaded areas. Even when grown solid, they will produce some fruit along the edges. The dark green foliage is attractive and the color remains though most of the year.

DISEASE CONTROL

If grown on well drained soil, properly thinned and rejuvenated, diseases should not be a major problem. Strawberries will naturally show some leaf spots, and unless they cover the leaves completely, they will not cause serious long term problems.

VARIETIES

June Bearing

Allstar- With an almost perfect strawberry shape, Allstar has become a major variety during the late mid-season time. The glossy firm fruit, which holds its size very well, is an excellent u-pick or home garden choice. High yields and very large fruit along with Allstar’s vigor and resistance to red stele, verticillium wilt, moderate resistance to powdery mildew and leaf scorch makes it suitable to almost any growing region and soil condition.

Everbearers

Hecker- With high yields, medium size fruit with firm skin, Hecker is a great choice for all summer enjoyment.

Fort Laramie- This is an older Everbearing variety with firm, wedge-shaped fruit, glossy red-fleshed fruit. Very good quality with an appetizing aroma. Very good processing strawberry.