When to water strawberries?

Growing Berries in Your Backyard

Watering. Strawberry plants need regular water to thrive, especially during fruit bearing season, when they need an average of 1-2 inches of water daily. The best way to water strawberries is to use drip or soaker hose placed at least two inches away from the plant. Strawberry roots are shallow, so keep the soil moist but not soggy. If soil is high in clay, be especially careful not to over-water. Use sprinkler irrigation carefully. During fruiting season, fruit is susceptible to rot if plants do not dry out in between watering. For this reason, avoid watering in early evening. When using strawberry pots, check the openings regularly to ensure soil doesn’t get too dry.

Fertilizing. Strawberries aren’t heavy feeders, but can benefit from an application of fertilizer 6 weeks after planting. Use ammonium sulfate or a concentrated organic fertilizer such as fish, feather, or bone meal at a rate of ½ pound per 100 square feet. Nurseries and garden centers also sell “Berry” fertilizers with packaging that contains directions for application. Irrigate after fertilizing to help move fertilizer into the root zone. Observe plants to determine future fertilization. Light green leaves and a lack of vigor indicate a need for further application.

A Beginner’s Guide to Growing Strawberries

Strawberries are one of the gardener’s favorite crops. There is no comparing a fresh-picked, homegrown strawberry to most supermarket fare. Strawberries are also one of the fruits which require a small amount of space but can produce abundantly.

Like other berries, most strawberries are perennials, which means their roots stay from year to year and expand with each passing year, although any particular plant will begin to decline after about two or three years. On the other hand, some types will not even produce fruit in the first year they are planted. So keep this in mind when choosing which strawberries you will plant.

When to Plant Strawberries

Spring is the perfect time to plant strawberries, but not the only time. Depending on what type of strawberries you plant, they may produce their first summer or they may need an overwintering period in order to start producing their second summer.

If you want fruit in your first season, make sure you buy “day-neutral” or “everbearer” types of strawberries, although be patient as it may take up to 12 weeks from the date of planting for fruit to form. Alternatively, you can buy mature potted plants which will be ready to produce.

June bearing plants will produce their second summer. While they don’t provide instant gratification, June bearers are reputed to produce the most flavorful strawberries, so the wait may be worth it.

Soil and Sun

Strawberries need full sun and prefer a sandy loam soil with ample organic matter and a pH of 6.0-6.5, but they can really grow in many types of soil as long as there is good drainage. You should prepare your soil by adding ample compost, well-rotted manure, or garden soil to the area you plan to use, or if using pots, fill with fresh potting soil. Soil should also be kept free of weeds.

Buying a Potted Strawberry Plant

If you’re buying a mature strawberry plant in a pot, it’s probably ready to produce strawberries. All it needs from you is watering and a place in the sun. This is the most convenient and practical way to grow strawberries for most people.

Planting Strawberries in the Garden

When planting in the garden, space plants about 18-24 inches apart in single rows. Dig holes deep enough so that the crown (base) of each plant will be at surface level, not below it, which would encourage disease. Fill the soil around the roots and press firmly, being careful not to leave any roots exposed. Water in the transplants.

When and How to Water Strawberry Plants

Water strawberry plants regularly, and more often in hot, dry weather. Water at the base of the plants, not on their leaves or fruits, and also don’t let water splash on the leaves or fruit, as this can encourage disease. Also, try to water in the morning so the surface water can evaporate by evening.

Tools to water strawberries without splashing the leaves and fruit:

  • drip lines
  • direct-point watering (put hose on low pressure and water at base of plants)
  • drip tape

If you don’t have time or patience to use those things, apply mulch (e.g. straw, thus the name “strawberries”), which you can then water however you want without splashing.

General Care

It’s a very good idea to keep your strawberries up off the soil. If you’re growing in the ground, that means placing plastic, straw, or some other kind of mulch under your plants. This will protect them from weeds, will retain moisture in the soil, and prevent disease. It is also recommended to place netting over your plants so birds won’t eat your delicious crop.

Strawberry Variety

Before we talk about choosing varieties, the easiest thing to do is go to your local nursery or garden center, see what they’re carrying, and ask them which variety will work best for what you want.

If you’d like to know the nitty gritty, there are three categories of strawberries: the June bearer, the everbearer, and the “day-neutral” type. Day neutrals and everbearers can be grown as annuals. They prefer long summer days and will produce fruit the first season they are planted, while Junebearers will only start producing the second summer after planting. They generally hibernate during the winter and so are good for cold regions.

All types are ideally planted in spring. For young June bearers and everbearers, the experts suggest pinching off any flowers that form for three to four months after planting. For day neutrals, pinch off flowers for the first six weeks. Day-neutrals will then produce strawberries for the rest of summer and fall, everbearers will give you a fall harvest, and June bearers will come out with their first crop the next June. By preventing flower growth, you let your plants grow their runners, ensuring a strong plant and good production.

Dropping Names

Some varieties worth mentioning: Earliglow is an early ripening June bearer. It is very sweet and disease-resistant. Ozark Beauty is a heavy-producing everbearer. Its berries are good for eating fresh, canning and freezing, and it’s resistant to leaf rot. Seascape is a heavy-producing day-neutral. It is disease-resistant, with firm, appealing fruit. It will produce a heavy crop in late spring and a lesser crop until fall.

Which to Choose?

There are many varieties within each of the three strawberry types to consider. Some are known for their flavor (Alpine Yellow tastes like pineapple), some for disease resistance, and some for abundance.

If you plan to freeze or can most of your berries, June bearers make sense since they produce most of their fruit all at once. If you prefer fresh strawberries and an extended strawberry growing season, everbearers and day-neutrals are the way to go.

Consult an experienced local landscaper to recommend the best type of strawberries and other crops to grow in your garden.

Updated January 2, 2018.

Jun 16, 2011Too much water can be bad for strawberries

Water is usually a relatively inexpensive input in fruit production, and many producers have the luxury of supplying more water than is really necessary to obtain a full crop. This is particularly true in the Northeast, where ample water is usually available – especially in spring. However, excessive irrigation (or overhead frost protection) can contribute to nutrient leaching and disease development.

For example, researchers in Norway examined four levels of supplemental irrigation and a control over two years. In one year, there were no differences in yield among treatments, and in another year the lowest yields were in the two treatments receiving the most supplemental irrigation, corresponding to low nitrogen levels in leaves. Clearly, water supplied in excess can be as detrimental as insufficient water.

How much water?

In strawberries, a critical stage of growth is the establishment period of the transplants. For about two weeks, newly set transplants are susceptible to even mild water stress. This vulnerability is mainly because plants have not developed a good fibrous root system with fine root hairs for water absorption. In the fruiting year, yield reductions of 33 percent and size reductions of 17 percent have been documented under only moderately dry conditions without irrigation.

Strawberries grown on plastic beds in warm climates require about 18 inches of water over a 200-day growing season – after they have become established. This is the equivalent of about 22 gallons per plant per season. (Actual water use by the strawberry plant is about 55 percent of this amount; more water is applied than what the plants actually use because of losses due to leaching, evaporation, inefficient application and an inadequate ability to assess water requirements on a daily basis.) Matted-row growers often ensure that a minimum of 1 inch is applied as irrigation or rainfall during the growing season, mainly to replace soil moisture lost to evapotranspiration.

How do deficits affect growth?

Water stress can interfere with photosynthetic activity and reduce the potential growth of the plant. Several experiments have been conducted to measure the responses of specific vegetative plant parts to water deficit stresses. Root systems of strawberry are affected by water shortages, with the root/shoot ratio increasing in response to water stress. Reductions in the number of leaves, runners and crowns also have been observed when long and frequent droughts are experienced.

The rate of leaf expansion is greatest during a five-hour period beginning one hour before sunset.
Water-stressed plants have a reduced rate of leaf expansion during this period, and these differences can accumulate over the season until well-watered plants have twice the leaf area as non-irrigated plants. With only moderate water stress, leaf area can be less than half that of the well-watered plants after a four-month period. A portion of the difference in leaf area can be attributed to leaf death under droughty conditions, especially of older leaves.

The older the leaf, the more prone it is to senescence should stress conditions occur. Furthermore, under moderate water stress, younger leaves are able to maintain higher relative water content than older leaves.

How do deficits affect fruiting?

Water deficit has been shown to cause fruit yield reduction by decreasing flower numbers, fruit set, numbers of fruit per plant and fruit size. Differences in yield and fruit quality between well-watered and stressed plants have been demonstrated by many studies on various cultivars and in various production systems.
Numbers of fruit per plant can be decreased by more than 30 percent, and total fruit production can decline by about 80 percent when plants are severely stressed from the beginning of the growing season.

Accelerated ripening and smaller fruit size occur in water-stressed strawberries. Surecrop has a larger root system and is more tolerant to drought than Raritan with a much smaller root system. However, when water is not limiting, Raritan has higher yields, suggesting that there is a physiological cost associated with maintaining a large root system.

Is irrigation required?

The measurement of a crop’s water needs in the field usually is estimated with tensiometers, electrical conductance tools, weather data or pan evaporation. Usually, these tools are used to trigger supplemental irrigation when soil moisture falls below a predetermined level.

Researchers achieved the maximum yield response when soil moisture was kept above 65 percent of field capacity in the top 60 centimeters of the soil. However, obtaining maximum yields may not be equivalent to achieving economically optimal yields, especially in areas where irrigation costs are high. Tensiometers can be used to assess field capacity of the soil, and take the guesswork out of estimating irrigation needs based on rainfall or how wet the soil feels. A rule of thumb is to not let the soil moisture fall below 50 percent field capacity.

By setting a bucket over a strawberry plant in the evening and examining the plant the next morning, one can estimate the need for irrigation by seeing if beads of water have formed on the edges of younger leaves during the night. Guttation is a phenomenon by which xylem sap is exuded through the pores of the hydathodes in the leaves, as the result of root pressure. Guttation usually takes place at night when transpiration is low and humidity and soil moisture are high. Research suggests that guttation only occurs in well-watered plants.

How to apply water?

Researchers have found that drip irrigation is much more efficient (requiring about 50 percent less water) than overhead for meeting the water requirements of the strawberry. Studies suggest that the use of water in many strawberry fields is not optimized. Evidence of this inefficiency was found in a comprehensive survey of strawberry growers in the Huelva region of Spain. Although soil type, cultivar and climate were the same for these growers and 78 percent of them considered their water use sufficient, the variation in water use/area was as much as 96 percent for some irrigation systems. These researchers calculated an index of uniformity, with 100 percent indicating that each emitter in the field was providing the same amount of water per unit time.

Within fields, the irrigation uniformity index averaged 49 percent, despite the fact that the majority of systems were only between three and five years old. These data suggest that growers are not optimizing their use of irrigation water, partially because of uneven distribution of water within a field.

In a nutshell, you will need to ensure that the irrigation system is up and running at planting, since young plants are most susceptible to drought stress. Develop a method of assessing plant water needs, whether it be using tensiometers, looking for guttation or using electrical conductivity meters. Finally, determine if your irrigation system is applying water uniformly. If not, make necessary adjustments. Drip irrigation systems tend to be more uniform and efficient than overhead systems.

By A.H. El-Farhan, Marvin Pritts, Cornell University

Tags: Crop Management, Equipment, Strawberries, Water

Strawberry Water Needs – Learn How To Water Strawberries

How much water do strawberries need? How can you learn about watering strawberries? The key is to provide enough moisture, but never too much. Soggy soil is always worse than slightly dry conditions. Read on to learn more specific information about strawberry irrigation.

Strawberry Water Needs

Strawberries tend to dry out fairly quickly because they are shallow-rooted plants with roots that exist mostly in the top 3 inches (7.5 cm.) of soil.

Generally, there is no need to water strawberries if your climate receives around 1 to 1.5 inches (2.5 to 3.8 cm.) of rainfall per week. In drier climates, you’ll have to provide supplemental moisture, especially during hot, dry weather.

As a general rule, figure about an inch (2.5 cm.) of water per week, although you may need to increase that amount to as much as 2.5 inches (6 cm.) during hot, dry summer weather.

How do you know it’s time to water? It’s important to check the soil before you irrigate, which is easy to do by inserting a trowel or wooden stick into the soil. Wait a few days and check again if the top 2 inches (5 cm.) of soil is dry to the touch.

Keep in mind that heavy, clay-based soil may need a little less water, while sandy, fast-draining soil may need more frequent irrigation.

How to Water Strawberries

Avoid overhead sprinklers when watering strawberries. Instead, use a drip irrigation system or a soaker hose at least 2 inches (5 cm.) from the plants. It’s important to keep the leaves as dry as possible, as strawberries are susceptible to rot in soggy conditions. Alternatively, you can let a garden hose trickle near the base of the plants.

Early morning is the best time for effective strawberry irrigation. This way, the plants have all day to dry before evening.

If you’re growing strawberries in containers, check the moisture daily; the potting mix will dry out quickly, especially during warm weather.

It’s always better to water a little less than to overwater and create unhealthy, waterlogged soil.

A layer of about 2 inches (5 cm.) of mulch for strawberries, such as straw or chopped leaves, will control weeds, conserve moisture, and prevent water from splashing on the leaves. You may need to limit mulch, however, if slugs are a problem. Also, be careful not to let mulch pile up directly on the stems, as damp mulch may promote rot and other moisture-related plant diseases.

The average water requirement for strawberry plants for the two experimental set 

… Mixed soil (compost and agricultural sand) was used. The first treatment Set (A) were the strawberry plants grown on boxes in two line with soil depth 15 cm, the second treatment Set (B), the strawberry plants grown on mulch with soil depth 7 cm. The soil had 50% a compost mixed with 50% agricultural sand, soil characteristics shown in Table 1. Strawberry seedlings with four leaves were transplanted by hand in 2 rows with 0.5 m row spacing and 0.3 m seedling spacing on September during 2012/2013 season as show in Figure 1. Drip irrigation systems were adopted in the experiment, based on the conventional schedule. The mineral fertilizers was added with adjust irrigation. The plants were grown with 29/19°C day/night temperature regimes. Other aspects of crop management followed conventional practices. Strawberry was harvested twice weekly on late November during 2012/2013 season untill the end of May 2013. Soil was dried at 70°C to constant weight and recorded. The dried soil samples were grounded and sieved through 2.0 mm mesh. The total Nitrogen was determined by the kjeldahl method . Nitrate was determined in the soil according to Singh . Bulk density of compost was estimated as a ratio between oven dry weights to their volumes as mg/m 3 as reported by Okalebo et al. . Soil pH was measured in a 1:5 ratio (compost: water) suspension for compost . Electrical conductivity (Ec) was measured in the compost with a 1:10 (compost: water) ratio. Organic matter (OM) percent was calculated as: OM% = TOC (%) X 1.724. Total phosphorus was measured calorimetrically using a spectrophotometer after wet digesting the soil samples in concentrated H2SO 4 + HClO 4 . The effects of organic protected agricultural area on living systems, particularly the effect on growth of plants, have been the objective of numerous researchers. The strawberry experiment carried out used compost mixed with agricultural sand as agricultural media. The results of soil analysis shown in Table 1. Our result showed that used mixed soil between compost and agricultural sand as agricultural media was a suitable media for growth strawberry plants and for productivity. The characteristics of organic matter increase permeability, available water capacity, air-filled porosity and the nitrogen increased in the soil with the increase of organic nitrogen applied as well as soil organic carbon . Strawberries tolerate a wide range of soil types, if the soil was properly modified. The soil should be well drained. Strawberries can’t tolerate standing water or “wet feet.” They grow best in a raised bed of well-drained loam soil, high in organic matter with a pH between 6 and 7 . Mathur, et al . found that compost enhances the environmental sustainability of agriculture by decreasing chemical inputs and increasing soil organic matter. Adding different organic compost to the soil caused remarkable improvement of different growth characters and yield . Adrien, stated that the application of organic manures significantly increased levels of organic C and N and the formation of water-stable aggregates, as compared with application of chemical fertilizers . In general, chemical fertilizer application rates in intensive agricultural systems have increased dramatically during recent years in Palestine, especially in greenhouse vegetable production systems. Because of higher yields and income, the highest chemical fertilizer inputs can lead to marked deterioration in soil and groundwater quality and the systems are clearly unsustainable. However, the use of inorganic fertilizers alone may cause problems for human health and the environment that means the excess use of chemical fertilizers in agriculture can lead to nitrate accumulation into plant parts especially on edible parts. Abd El-Hamied, found that the nitrate accumulation in editable plants is a problem when eaten and causing a health hazard . The results obtained indicated that the strawberry plants of the Set (A) were characterized by significantly lower yields in comparison with Set (B) that means that there is significant effect in strawberry productivity according to soil depth. During the time of growing seasons the difference in quantity was clearly from the beginning of harvest stage until the end of harvest stage (Figure 2). The total fruit yield was determined as the overall yield from all the individual harvests. The results show that the strawberry plant productivity was higher in Set (B), were 7 cm soil depth used with 2115 kg in comparison with Set (A) were 15 cm soil depth 1654 kg (Figure 3). This result does not agree with Michele and Leigh, a soil depth of greater than 25 cm is most preferable, between 15 and 25 cm can still grow productive strawberries. Less than 15 cm is not suitable for commercial production in soil. . The results show that clearly different water requirements between Set (A) and Set (B) during the agricultural period as show in Figure 4. Were the water requirements was higher in Set (A) (314 m 3 / season) in comparison with Set (B) were (193m 3 / season) during the 8 months of agriculture period. It means that the soil depth used gives directly effects on water requirements. Strawberries have shallow roots. To get maximum growth and yield, never let plants be stressed by lack of water. Keep newly set strawberries well irrigated. The plants will need about 2.5 to 3.5 Cm of water a week; supplement rain with irrigation as needed. The soil is sandy, you will need to pay more attention to watering and fertilization. Often, plantings on sandy soil require more frequent and lighter applications of water and fertilizer . The sustainability of agricultural production depends on conservation and appropriate use and management of scarce water resources, especially in arid and semi-arid areas where irrigation is required for the production of food and cash crops . Neelam and Rajput . Verify that water distribution in the soil around a buried dripper mainly depends on soil texture, dripper discharge and root water uptake. Soil water distribution patterns varied at different stages of crop growth. These results indicated that use of soil (compost mixed with agricultural sand) could save water with an average of 18, 15, 7, 13, 15, 11, 18 and 26 m 3 /month, respectively, and 193 m 3 for the agricultural season of the applied water to strawberry plant were used 7 cm soil depth with 314 m 3 were used 15 cm soil depth as shown in Figure 5. The organic strawberries and their soils were of higher quality compared to their conventional counterparts. Specifically, the organic strawberries, while having lower concentrations of phosphorus and potassium, had higher antioxidant activity and concentrations of ascorbic acid and phenolic compounds, longer shelf life, greater dry matter, and, for ‘Diamante’, better taste and appearance. The organically farmed soils had more carbon and nitrogen, greater microbial biomass and activity, and greater functional gene abundance and diversity . Mady indicated that levels of compost fertilizers could save water with on average of 14, 12.79, 29.07 and 44.19% of the applied water to cucumber crop under water stress treatments of 40, 60, 80 and 100 % from field capacity, respectively, and might be due to increase of field capacity, Permanent wilting point percentage and available water by adding compost fertilizer while, bulk density was opposite . Also, Mamo, et, al. found that the extract compost addition was found to not only increase crop yield, but also to improve soil fertility in terms of organic C and N content, permeability, plant available water capacity and air-filled porosity . Vegetative growth and yield for the strawberry plants affected by the fertilizers regimes. The results showed that using chemical and organic fertilizers regime gives early harvested during the end of second month of agriculture in protected farms, were 7 kg was given in Set (A) comparing with 9 kg in Set (B). On the other hand it was noticed that there is declining in the quantity of fertilizers used in related with the depth of soil that is clearly shown in table 2. Were comparison between Set (A) and (B) The fertilizer regime was the same in the two set. Were used many types of chemical and organic fertilizers during the agricultural season as show in (Table 2). Strawberry nursery plant propagation and productivity were significantly related to soil Phosphor availability, soil water content (SWC) and pH levels. High soil P nutrition at the pH 6.2 level would promote strawberry nursery plant propagation. High soil Ca and Fe concentrations might have resulted in low P concentration in the soil but further verification of P adsorption process is needed . The results relating to fruit yield quantity and quality obtained in this experiment indicated a high usefulness of the strawberry and field cultivation was in Set (B) were 7 cm soil depth in comparison with Set (B) were 15 cm soil depth, added it was a relation between the soil depth and fruit loses. Sas-Paszt et al. indicate that mycorirhization of strawberry plants and mulching of the soil with a peat substrate or compost have a beneficial effect on the yield and firmness of strawberry fruits of the cv. ‘Senga Sengana’. Moreover, these treatments produce positive effects on the growth of plant roots, i.e. their length, number of root tips, diameter, root surface area and volume. The results of the present experiment cannot confirm these effects in terms of yield because there were no significant differences. The effects of mulching can be variable. Singht et al. showed that the addition of vermicompost increased plant spread, leaf area, dry matter and also increased total fruit yield. On the other hand, the addition of vermicompost drastically reduced the incidence of physiological disorders like albinisrn, fruit malfonnation and the …

Watering. Strawberry plants need regular water to thrive, especially during fruit bearing season, when they need an average of 1-2 inches of water daily. The best way to water strawberries is to use drip or soaker hose placed at least two inches away from the plant. Strawberry roots are shallow, so keep the soil moist but not soggy. If soil is high in clay, be especially careful not to over-water. Use sprinkler irrigation carefully. During fruiting season, fruit is susceptible to rot if plants do not dry out in between watering. For this reason, avoid watering in early evening. When using strawberry pots, check the openings regularly to ensure soil doesn’t get too dry.

Fertilizing. Strawberries aren’t heavy feeders, but can benefit from an application of fertilizer 6 weeks after planting. Use ammonium sulfate or a concentrated organic fertilizer such as fish, feather, or bone meal at a rate of ½ pound per 100 square feet. Nurseries and garden centers also sell “Berry” fertilizers with packaging that contains directions for application. Irrigate after fertilizing to help move fertilizer into the root zone. Observe plants to determine future fertilization. Light green leaves and a lack of vigor indicate a need for further application.

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