Strawberry Renovation

The end of June is typically the time when June-bearing strawberry beds are renovated in preparation for next year's harvest. However, because of the cool spring weather this year, many gardeners will still be harvesting at this time. Northern and central Iowa gardeners who can finish harvesting by July 10 can renovate as usual immediately after harvest. Southern Iowa gardeners can extend the date to July 15 and still renovate as usual.

June-bearing strawberries are most productive when grown in 2-foot-wide matted rows. If the strawberry bed is a solid mat of plants, renovate the planting by creating 8 inch-wide plant strips with a rototiller or hoe. These 8-inch-wide strips should be about 3 to 4 feet apart. Runners will form and the new plants will create a 2-foot-wide matted row by the end of the summer. June-bearing strawberries grown in rows should also be renovated. Simply narrow the rows to 8-inch wide strips by removing the older plants and keeping the younger ones. Some strawberry cultivars are extremely vigorous and produce runners beyond the 2-foot matted rows. These runners should be placed back within the allotted row or removed to prevent the plant from becoming a solid mat of plants.

Fertilize with approximately 5 pounds of 10-10-10 or similar analysis fertilizer per 100 feet of row to encourage plant growth and development. Since strawberry plants have a shallow root system, water regularly during hot, dry periods. Regular watering helps assure good berry numbers and size next spring.

Control weeds throughout the summer by cultivating or hand weeding. Dacthal, a pre-emergence herbicide, may be applied at renovation to help control annual grasses and some broadleaf weeds. Well-maintained strawberry plantings that are renovated annually may remain productive for 4 or 5 years. Poorly managed beds may be productive for only 1 or 2 years.

If you are still harvesting berries after July 10, do not mow the plants off as mentioned earlier. New leaf and runner growth would be destroyed by this procedure. However, narrow the rows, fertilize, water, and weed as mentioned above.

Everbearing and day-neutral strawberries should not be renovated like June-bearers. Their growth and fruiting characteristics dictate different cultural practices. Additional information on the culture of everbearing, day-neutral, and June-bearing strawberries can be found in the publication "Growing Strawberries at Home," which is available at your local county Extension office.

This article originally appeared in the June 21, 1996 issue, p. 106.


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