Strawberry cultivation

Soil and strawberry growth place

Strawberries grow best in open, sunny place with prevailing fertile, loose, permeable to water, gently acid or neutral reaction (pH 5,8 – 6,5) humus sandy and loam soil, where the ground water is not higher than 0,7 m from the surface. Liming of the very acid soil shall be performed not later than one year prior to the strawberries planting. Strawberries shall not be planted in field depression (hollow) where is a standing water in spring time as in such place the strawberries wet heavily and the berries rot. strawberries_in pots

Preceding and crop rotation. Strawberries are good to plant after the beetroots, carrots, radishes and lettuce. Not suitable for planting after flowers, seed plants, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes or other plants after which remains a large waste (late cabbage, corns, gladiolus). Strawberries can be planted in the same place after 3-4 years.

Soil, where the strawberries have grown for several years, gets infected with many weeds, especially perennial and there can be specific, disease-causing parasites. Moreover, strawberries absorb all needed nutrients out of the soil over the few years. Short vegetation fodder crops shall be sown after the strawberries, such as oilseed radish (as green fertilizer) that shall be plowed in autumn and sawing the winter rye, that shall be plowed in spring. It is also recommended to sow the field with marigold, dill. Short growing crops can be sawn twice a year. This helps to destroy weed and enrich the soil with organic matter as well as to improve the soil structure.

Following the crop rotation principle, strawberries will grow healthy and shall be “cured from diseases” very rarely with sprayed fungicides.

Soil preparation. Soil shall be smoothed, disced and plowed (or shoveled if the area is not big) destroying the perennial weeds also fertilized with non-chlorine complex fertilizers containing microelements with low nitrogen and higher phosphorus and potassium amount. Latter, the soil will need very little fertilization. Strawberries cannot be over-fertilized; they are especially sensitive to nitrogen fertilizers. Over-fertilized strawberries grow into lush leafage, get dense, loose resistance to disease with the berries rotting more often.

Planting time. Strawberries shall be planted in the second half of April (sometimes in early May, depending on the weather conditions and moisture in the soil) or in mid-August. Only healthy seedlings having three leaves shall be planted a little deeper than they have grown in nursery, into the moist soil and then watered with water. Prior to planting, seedling roots shall be put into clay and manure puree (of cream consistence) for their better establishment.

After planting, plants must be mulched with peat or shredded tree bark mulch, in order they would establish better and allowing the minimal sprouting of weeds. If well established strawberries are mulched with straw, berries remain clean and weeds are growing not so richly. In order to have berries ripen earlier, beds (or larger area planted in rows) shall be mulched with black foil and there also be less weed.

Planting distance. Seedlings shall be planted in rows (0,8×0,3–0,4 m) – species that tend to rot or bushy-growing strawberries shall be planted with bigger distances, such as  ‘Dukat‘, ‘Venta‘, ‘Senga Sengana‘ are planted in rows (0,5×0,3 m) and as carpet (1,0×0,5 m); all sprouts grow from runners shall be allowed to take roots (suitable species ‘Honeoye‘).

Strawberries fertilization. Strawberries shall be fertilized 2-3 times per season. Young strawberries after they have 1-2 young leaves, shall be fertilized with complex fertilizers containing trace elements (10-10-20 or 8-12-23) in late April – early May or in mid-June, using 4 kg/one are, if they have not been fertilized prior to planting, otherwise additional fertilization shall be minimal.

Fruiting strawberries shall be fertilized in early spring and mid-June with the complex fertilizers (10-10-20 or 8-12-23), using 6 kg/one are.

In danger of frost, in the evening, strawberries shall be sprayed with 0,2 percent Fainal potassium solution (2 l/ha), thus sprayed plants are not damaged by frost.

During the blossoms formation and the blossoming itself till the very fruiting, the strawberries 1-2 times shall be sprayed over the leaves with 0,2 Boramin Ca solution. This preparation helps to form a larger amount of rudiments, increases the pollen activity and grants the quality of berries. After the harvesting, strawberries shall be fertilized with complex fertilizers containing trace elements – 4-6 kg/are.

Strawberries shall be sprayed with fungicide Signum from various rots, using 0,4 l/ha. This preparation can be used during the blossoming and at the start of fruiting as its withdrawal lasts only three days.

Treatment. Weeds shall be destroyed by loosening interrow areas, weeding out and mulching or spraying with herbicides (if large areas are cultivated). Young strawberries shall be sprayed within one week after planting, using 1,5 l/ha Betanal Progres AM (destroys annual dicotyledonous weeds), later using 0,35 kg/ha Lontrelu (destroys perennial weeds: dandelions, sowthistles, camomiles).

Fruiting strawberries shall be sprayed with 2-3 l/ha Betanal Progres AM in early spring or post-harvest period and latter with 0,5 kg/ha Lontrelu.

After harvesting, strawberry sprouts shall grow new, lush leaves – it is not necessary to cut old leaves. Leaves of only diseased, vermin infested and weedy strawberries shall be cut. Leaves shall be cut immediately after harvesting, not lower than 5 cm above the sprouts. All other strawberries treatment works shall be performed after the leaves cutting.

In berry ripening period, strawberry stems almost does not grow. After harvesting, new leaves start to grow intensively as well as runners and roots, and then the sprouts. Stems are growing luxuriantly from mid-July till the late August. Then the strawberries need additional fertilization and watering. After that the growing slows and the formation of winter blossom buds start, which last till the growing period end and the next spring. If fertilization and watering is delayed, less time is left for blossom buds formation and the next year berries harvest will be lower.

Watering. Strawberry roots grow on the soil surface, thus the plants are very sensitive to water lack and they need watering. Till the blossoming period, the strawberries shall be watered 1-2 times, during berries fruiting – 2-3 times and after harvesting 1-2 times. Strawberries shall be watered in the evening or at night, in order the plants could get dryer during the day and the formation of favorable conditions for rotting would not prevail.