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Oklahoma County Cooperative Extension Service

Strawberries. Now?

OSU Extension Center

Joe Duncan, Oklahoma County Extension Master Gardener

2500 NE 63rd Street

OKC, OK  73111

405-713-1125

2-13-2018

 

Strawberries.  Now?

Yes.  It’s time to get started on a spring crop.  Spring of 2019, that is. Planning ahead and patience will pay dividends.  Strawberries are a garden favorite not only because they are a delicious and nutritious treat, but also because they are insect and disease resistant, and they grow and spread quickly.

What should I buy?  There are several varieties to choose from.  June bearing are better producers in Oklahoma.  Ever bearing have a longer season but they don’t do as well in the dry heat we have later in the summer.  Select plants that ripen at different times (early, late and mid-season varieties) so that you can enjoy those treats from early May through mid-June.  Deal with a reputable local nursery to select plants that are best for your area and for an extended harvest.  With favorable conditions you should reap one quart of berries per plant per year.

How/when to plant?  Strawberries should be planted in full sun in late February to late March, as soon as your soil is thawed. They like well drained sandy loam with added organic matter. Avoid planting them in a plot that has been used for other berries or for tomatoes, potatoes or peppers.  This will help prevent disease problems such as, tomato ringspot virus, verticillium wilt and root rot. Place plants 2 - 3 feet apart to allow space for runners to develop. When planting take care to keep roots wet.  Remove all but the most vigorous two or three leaves from each plant. Hill the centers of the holes and spread the roots out evenly.  Set crowns (where the leaves arise) even with the ground surface after the soil has been firmed around the roots.  A buried crown will rot. Water your new plants thoroughly, then continue to water 1 - 2 inches a week.  Be sure to water the ground - not the foliage - to avoid damage to leaves.

What may I expect?  During the first year your plants will grow and multiply. “Daughter plants” will develop, and by the following spring they will produce a full crop.  Hooray!  For the strongest plants and  the best future production (as difficult as it may be) you should remove all flowers that appear throughout this first season.  If berries are allowed to develop this year they will reduce plant growth, runner development and next year’s crop. We don’t want that!

Feeding?  Your lovelies will want to be fed each August or September with a sprinkling of ammonium nitrate.  Be sure to place it around the plants - not on them - to avoid burning the leaves.  Water it in immediately.  Established plants should not be fertilized in the spring.  Feeding during this growth period promotes excessive leaves and poor flowering.

Mulching is not necessary, but it is recommended for the winter months to prevent dry-freeze kill.  It will also slow early growth until after the danger of frost has past.  Straw (3 - 4 inches) is a good mulch for strawberries.  Be sure to remove the mulch sometime in March.

Next year, after your patient care, when you finally see flowers, you can expect fruit to be ready to harvest (and eat) within 3 - 6 weeks, depending on the variety and the weather.  If you have issues with creatures wanting you to share your crop and you don’t want to share, you might consider bird netting or rabbit fencing or cages. You’ve done the work.  You deserve to pick and enjoy!

 

 

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