How Do I Grow Strawberries in the Off-Season?

Uploaded by TheUniversityofMaine on 10.01.2011

David Handley: Hi, I'm David Handley with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension,
and we're here today to talk about growing strawberries off-season. This is day-neutral
strawberries or, in some cases, ever-bearing strawberries.
Here we are just coming up on Labor Day weekend, and you can see we've got some nice ripe strawberries
to pick. How can you do this on your farm or at your home? It's a simple matter of choosing
the right varieties and using the right production system.
In the case of day-neutral strawberries, what we're looking at is typically planting in
the spring, just as you would for your normal June-bearing strawberries. These will come
as bare-root, dormant crowns. The earlier you can plant them, the better. Here at Highmoor
Farm, we're usually planting them around the end of May, when we can work this soil
In this case, we plant these plants rather closely together. If you look at this row,
you can see our plants are actually about 10 inches apart in a row. And in this case
we've used a double-row, and these plants are about 20 inches apart between rows.
You can see we've planted these through plastic mulch. This works great for this particular
system because we're not going to use any runners, and it gives us good weed control.
If you're at home and you don't want to use plastic, you can simply mulch them with straw
and pine needles or some other type of mulch that will allow the water to come through
but prevent weeds from germinated and prevent those runners from rooting, and not add weed
seed to the soil.
As these plants start to grow, they'll throw out flower shoots like you see here. You want
to remove these flower clusters for the first four to five weeks. That's in order to get
that plant to get a nice root system underneath. You don't want it spending all its energy
on fruit development initially.
After this plant has started to grow well and it's grown for about a month, you can
stand back and let those flowers go ahead and start to develop fruit. If they form any
little runner plants, as you can see here, these should be removed also.
In the case of day-neutral or ever-bearing strawberries, we're not going to use these
runners. That's why we plant them so closely together initially, so these can come off,
because they're just tapping that plant for energy that should be going toward fruit production.
So after the first four of five of weeks of flower removal, stand back, let them go. These
will start to flower and fruit again. And you should be picking fruit as we come to
the end of August. And these plants will keep on throwing flowers and fruit right up until
the frost gets the better of them.
Now if you want to extend the season a little bit and prevent the frost from killing them,
any time the weather reports says there's going to be frost that night, just come out
and lay some blankets or plastic over them, just like you would to protect your tomatoes
in the fall.
You can keep these things going, in a good year, all the way through September, and maybe
even picking a few strawberries in October. They'll slow down as the temperatures get
cooler, but you'll still have a few fresh berries to put on your cereal and maybe make
a shortcake.
As far as varieties go, Tristar and Tribute are two tried-and-true varieties that work
very well here in Maine, although more recently, growers have gone to California varieties,
and that's what you see here.
The favorite is Seascape. This is a new one called San Andreas, that we have some high
hopes for. It's still in the testing phase. For my money, I think Tristar or perhaps Seascape
are the best tried-and-true varieties.
But try them at home. Get those dormant plants, plant them in the spring, pinch those flowers
off for the first few weeks. Pinch any runners off that show up. And then enjoy the fruit
late in the summer and throughout the fall.