Strawberries - Method
Choice of site and preparation
Strawberries grow well in different soils provided they are well drained. If natural drainage is deficient, plant on raised beds prepared the fall before planting. Deep soils rich in organic matter with a pH of 6.5 are best. If necessary, apply manure, use green manure crops and chemical fertilizers to obtain good fertility. For commercial plantings, have the soil analyzed and consult with your extension horticulturist.
Before planting, consider a 4-year rotation and avoid eggplants, peppers, potatoes, tomatoes or raspberries the previous year since these crops may host verticillium wilt. Row crops, fallowing, green manure crops and herbicides may be used singly or in combination to eliminate perennial weeds such as quackgrass. Plow the site the previous fall.
Prepare the soil in early spring. Plant spacing will vary depending on the variety, the type of culture and the machinery being used. Normally, 40-50 cm between plants in rows 120 cm apart is adequate. Use certified plants from a recognized certification programme. Consult our variety list for a detailed description.
Keep the plants refrigerated until planting time. Plant so that the top of the crown is flush with the soil surface. (See figure below) Apply water with a starter fertilizer at planting and irrigate regularly if needed for early plant establishment.
Frequent shallow tilling near the plants aerate the soil and destroy weeds. When the plants are better established, herbicides will help control weed in the row.
Flower removal, runner placement, frequent irrigation and the banding of fertilizers are all practices which help in getting daughter plants established early. The latter as well as the mother plants will bear the bulk of the first year crop.
Some mechanical weed control of the aisles at the end of the season will help maintain the required bed width (40-45 cm) as well as form a raised bed for better survival of the plants during the winter. Fall herbicide application and mulching will complete the first season's workload.
First year crop
Remove the straw early if early yield is the objective. If some winter damage is expected, apply some foliar fertilizers such as 20-20-20 as soon as new foliage shows up.
Make sure that plants receive 3-5 cm of water per week. Irrigate less but more often in sandy soils. During frost, irrigate with low volume nozzles until the temperature is back above freezing.
Apply pesticides as determined by IPM or according to the specific needs of each planting. If this information is not available, a wise recommendation would be to make two applications, the first just before and the second just after bloom. This way, you will reduce damage to beneficial insects (pollinators etc) and optimize the use of your insecticide / fungicide sprays.
A healthy strawberry planting relatively free of weeds can be renovated for a second crop. At the end of harvest apply a herbicide for broadleaf weed control if necessary and mow the foliage with a rotary mower one week later. Apply some fertilizer such as 10-10-10 and narrow the beds to 20-30 cm with a rototiller. Irrigate if necessary to maintain the best growing conditions.
Such varieties which fruit for the whole summer are available but their particular physiology requires specific cultural practices for best results.
Plant in twin rows at 30 cm spacing. Space the beds (twin rows) 1.5 cm apart. These varieties do best when planted on black plastic mulch which helps warm the soil, preserve soil moisture and control weeds. After planting, remove flowers for 6 weeks or until late June. Remove runners as only one crop will be harvested. The quantity and fruit size are related to the availability of soil nutrients and moisture. Control pests particularly tarnished plant bugs. Fruiting will take place from end of July to the first frost.
Consult Strawberries - comparative table for a detailed description of varieties.