Renovation of June-bearing strawberries
June-bearing strawberry beds continue to produce for 3 - 5 years. Production life can be maximized through renovation. This technique is used in the matted row system to thin the beds and invigorate the planting.
How to renovate:
- In the second year, immediately after the end of harvest:
- Mow plants to a height of 2- to 3-inches, or just above the crowns;
- Top-dress with 1 lb. of 10-10-10 fertilizer per 25 plants; and
- Thin daughter plants to 6 inches apart. Rototill or spade under runners that strayed beyond the 12- to18-inch-wide growing bed, leaving a bed of mingled mother and daughter plants.
- Repeat the third year: mow, fertilize, and thin daughter plants to 6 inches apart.
- In the fourth year, alter this process. Turn under the mother plants and allow only the strongest daughter plants to form the 12- to 18-inch-wide beds. (It helps to drive a short stake in the ground at the head of each row during the initial planting so you can identify the mother plants later.)
After a period of years, berry yields usually drop due to diseases and environmental stress. You can then start a new berry patch in a new location with fresh plants. Don’t move runners from an old patch into a new bed, because you may be relocating insect and disease problems as well.
Shallow roots make plants prone to winter heaving. To prevent heaving of crowns and to protect overwintering flower buds, cover the plants and aisles with 4 inches of straw or other organic mulch. Do this after the soil freezes, when the plants are dormant. In early spring, pull mulch off plants and into the aisles to allow for soil warming and more rapid fruit maturation while suppressing aisle weeds. When fruits begin to develop, re-apply a thick mulch under foliage and around plants to minimize disease.
Row covers are useful in preventing winter damage, promoting early bloom, protecting blossoms from spring frosts, and excluding flying insect pests. Strawberry blossoms hit by frost will have “black eyes” the next day. Blossoms are pollinated by wind and insects, so be sure to remove the row cover just before flowering begins.