Growing Strawberries

Strawberries are successfully grown in every state but do best in well-drained loam soil with a pH of 6.0-6.5.  The soil structure should be loose and hardpans should be broken up with deep chisel plowing or tilling.

Strawberries must be planted in a weed-free site.  Cover cropping the year prior to planting will go a long way toward crowding out germinating annual weeds.  If no cover crop was used, the site should be cultivated frequently to kill weeds, or roundup can be used at 2-3 quarts per acre.  It should be used on actively growing weeds and, when used on quackgrass 6” tall, it gives good control.

Strawberries should be planted as early as possible in spring as frosts will not hurt newly planted berries.  Plants should be set in rows 38”-48” apart with 12”-18” between the plants for the matted row system.  Plant the plants at the same depth that they were at in the nursery, covering all roots but being careful not to cover the crown.

Irrigation will be necessary for frost protection, plant growth, and for cooling the fruit in hot conditions.  If you aren’t able to irrigate for frost protection, it is best to choose late-season varieties.  

A water-soluble fertilizer is all that should be applied for the first three weeks after planting to prevent burning newly emerging roots.  After this time, fertilize as you would any garden crop.

There are very few herbicides available for the planting year.  Small growers and gardeners are encouraged to keep rows clean by hoeing and hand weeding.

During the first season, it is advisable to remove fruit blossoms as they appear, to help encourage plant and runner growth.  For best results, set runners away from mother plants equally spaced from other runners.

In colder climates, a mulch of straw can be placed directly upon rows of plants to prevent winter injury to the strawberry crowns,  Remove in spring prior to dormancy break.