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Growing Strawberries

Growing Strawberries

Planting– Space your strawberry plants 12-18 inches apart in the row. Rows should be spaced 3-4 feet apart. Set plants in the row with the roots straight down. Be sure that planter shoes on your transplanting equipment or hand tools penetrate deeply enough to facilitate proper planting. Care should be taken that plants are set with the middle of the crown level with the top of the soil. Within a week or so, the soil will settle and the soil line should be even with the bottom of the crown. (See illustration.) Avoid covering crowns with soil while you hoe, weed, and cultivate throughout the season.
Weed Control– Weed control for strawberries is very important for successful results. We recommend preparing your site the year before planting to remove perennial grasses and to reduce weed pressure. At planting time, the soil should be thoroughly prepared and weed free. After planting, weekly cultivation removes weeds when they are small so they do not have a chance to compete with your plants. A tool called a scuffle hoe works well for this type of work. Also, the proper use of mulches will assist in weed control. Consult your local Cooperative Extension office for advice on using any chemical weed controls. 

Fertilization – Fertilizers should be used to maintain a balanced soil fertility, which will result in good vigorous plant growth. We recommend fertilizing in small quantities on a regular basis to encourage adequate growth and remove the possibility of overfertilizing. Overfertilizing leads to burning of plant leaves and roots, disease-prone growth and soft berries. See details for fertilization in the June bearing and/or day neutrals sections.


Irrigation – Irrigation is important for producing good crops of strawberries. If irrigation is not available, select a site with good water-holding capacity (but avoiding wet soils) as strawberries do poorly under drought conditions. Plant as soon as possible when the soil moisture is good. Strawberries do best when they get 1-2 inches of rainfall or equivalent each week, depending on soil type.


Mulching – Mulching is necessary in most northern states. A mulch prevents the quick freezing and thawing and thus mitigates fluctuating temperatures which cause crown damage that affects plant survival and crop yield. Mulch keeps fruit clean, conserves moisture, keeps down weeds, and adds humus to the soil. Mulch with any loose, acid-free and weed-free material such as salt hay or straw, after plants have started to go dormant or after 6-10 hard frosts – usually in early to late November depending on your location and the accumulation of chilling hours. Avoid materials like decayed or wet leaves that tend to mat down and can smother plants. Remove mulch from the top of the crowns in spring when the new growth starts. Leave mulch in the aisles to help keep the fruit clean.




Establishment Year
Pinch out all the flower buds the first year of growth. This allows the plant to put its energy into becoming established and will yield a larger crop the first bearing year. Fill in the rows of your strawberry plants by allowing some runners to set daughter plants. In mid to late July set 2 or 3 daughters on each side of the mother plant by lightly pressing the plantlets on the runners into the ground and tamp the soil down around the plantlet. Cut off any additional runners that form during the season. We suggest 1/2 lb. to 1 lb. of 10-10-10 fertilizer or equivalent, per 100 square feet be well worked into the soil before planting. Another application of 1/2 lb. of 10-10-10 per 100 square feet as a side dressing can be applied in July and again in August. Be prepared to compensate for wet rainy periods, which tend to leach away nutrients, with extra fertilizer applications.


Succeeding Years
Apply 1 lb. to 1.5 lbs. of 10-10-10 per 100 square feet at renovation. Sidedress in July and August, the same as the establishment year.