Berries not eaten fresh can be readily frozen or preserved. Besides being an excellent dessert fruit, strawberries are a good source of vitamin C as well as being low in calories (1/2 cup fills an adult's daily need for vitamin C and equals about 25 calories).
It is recommended that you speak to your Cooperative Extension Agent and/or the North Carolina Department of Agriculture for a listing of anthracnose-free nurseries. For the mountain and piedmont areas, choose red stele resistant varieties, Earliglow and Sunrise, in soils where this disease is present.
Set dormant-stored plants in March in eastern N.C. and during March or April in the piedmont and western N.C. Straw-berries are best planted in the matted row system. For a matted row bed, set the plants 1 1/2 to 2 feet apart in the row. Space the rows 3 1/2 to 4 feet apart. A matted row is encouraged to develop from the runner plants that grow from the mother plant. Set plants with the with the root straight down (never bent) and with the crown even with the top of the ground. Soon after planting blossoms will emerge that should be pinched to encourage early runnering from the mother plant.
Table 1. STRAWBERRY VARIETIES SUGGESTED FOR HOME GARDENS IN N.C. AREA FRUIT FRESH PROCESS VARIETY ADAPTED* SEASON SIZE QUALITY QUALITY Apollo all mid-late Lg good good PLANT MAKING ABILITY: low-mod SPACING MATTING ROW (ft): 1-1/2 Atlas CP,P early-mid Lg fair fair PLANT MAKING ABILITY: high SPACING MATTING ROW (ft): 2 Cardinal all midseason Med good v. good PLANT MAKING ABILITY: v. high SPACING MATTING ROW (ft): 2 Earlibelle CP,P v. early Sm good v. good PLANT MAKING ABILITY: v. high SPACING MATTING ROW (ft): 2 1/2 Earliglow WNC,P v. early Sm excel excel PLANT MAKING ABILITY: mod-high SPACING MATTING ROW (ft): 2 Prelude P,CP v. early Lg excel good PLANT MAKING ABILITY: mod SPACING MATTING ROW (ft): 1-1/2 Sunrise all early Sm fair fair PLANT MAKING ABILITY: v. high SPACING MATTING ROW (ft): 2-1/2 Tenn. Beauty WNC late Sm fair fair PLANT MAKING ABILITY: mod SPACING MATTING ROW (ft): 2 Titan CP,P early-mid Lg excel v. good PLANT MAKING ABILITY: low-mod SPACING MATTING ROW (ft): 1-1/2 *Adapted area designations: CP=coastal plain; P=piedmont; WNC=western N.C.; all=adapted to all areas.
Key Objectives - the strawberry plant is shallow rooted and must be fertilized during the growing season to keep it vigorous. And, plants should be fertilized before September, prior to the period of fruit-bud initiation.
Soil analytical services provided free of charge by the N.C. Department of Agriculture provide information on soil pH, dolomitic lime requirement, available phosphorus, potassium and magnesium levels, percentage humic matter, and total nitrogen content. However, there is no satisfactory analytical method for determining the amount of nitrogen in the soil sample that is immediately available for plant growth. The percentage humic matter and total nitrogen content give indications of overall soil fertility and this can be a useful guide to nitrogen availability. Essentially, you should follow the test recommendations for adjusting soil phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) before planting. If no soil test has been made, broadcast about 4 pounds of 10-10-10 fertilizer for each 100 feet of row 2 to 3 weeks before planting strawberries.
First season fertilizer - if new plants appear light green and are not growing well, sidedress with nitrogen (N) about one month after planting. Apply either 1 1/2 pound ammonium nitrate per 100 feet of row, or about 5 pounds 10-10-10 per 100 feet of row. A topdress application of ammonium nitrate at 1 1/2 pounds per 100 feet of row should be made again in late August. When topdressing strawberry plants, apply the fertilizer evenly and be sure to brush all fertilizer off the leaves to protect from fertilizer burn. The late August N application is necessary to promote good flower bud development in the fall. Very light coastal soils need additional N again in late January. The rate suggested at this time is 3/4 pounds ammonium nitrate, or 2 1/2 pounds 10-10-10 per 100 feet of row.
Second season fertilizer - prior to mowing the strawberry foliage at renovation (see Renovation), broadcast 3 to 4 pounds of a complete fertilizer (e.g. 10-10-10) or 1 1/2 pounds ammonium nitrate per 100 feet of row. Follow the same recommendations indicated for the first season fertilizer program in late August and again in late January (for sandy coastal soils). Prior to renovation, a second soil sample can be taken to furnish more exact recommendations for the summer and fall growing period.
Organic fertilizers - many of these if properly used are perfectly satisfactory. Dried Blood (12-14% N) is of course organic and immediately available. It leaves an acid reaction. Bone Meal contains 20-24% phosphoric acid, acting slowly, while steamed bone meal acts more quickly. Wood ashes can be used for supplying potash. For those who wish more information contact your County Cooperative Extension Office.
Key Objectives - in western N.C., the foothills and upper piedmont, a mulch is applied in the early winter, preferably after the ground has frozen for the first time, to prevent the soil from freezing and thawing and heaving of the plants. Also, when growth begins in the spring, a mulch of straw or pine needles on the ground helps to keep the berries clean as they ripen, conserves the moisture in the soil and is an excellent means for controlling weeds.
EASTERN CAROLINA AND CENTRAL PIEDMONT - Apply pine needles or grain straw in February. Scatter lightly over plants and in middles between rows.
WESTERN CAROLINA, FOOTHILLS AND UPPER PIEDMONT - In December, broadcast sufficient pine needles or grain straw in the middles and around the plants to protect crown. Use a light application on top of the plants at the higher elevations after the ground has frozen. This will prevent heaving of the plants and protect them from cold, drying winds when there is no snow cover.
HERBICIDES SHOULD NOT BE APPLIED WHEN PLANTS ARE BLOOMING, WHEN RUNNER PLANTS ARE TAKING ROOT, AND DURING LATE SUMMER AND EARLY FALL WHEN FRUIT BUDS ARE BEING FORMED.
STRAWBERRIES Month-by-Month Guide ================================================================= Month Tasks to be performed January Order new plants. Apollo requires another variety. February Plant (CP); fertilize (CP) old beds; apply mulch (CP, P); 2 weeks prior to new planting apply fertilizer plus lime. March Plant (P, WNC) certified plant; MR space 2 x 4 ft; Frost protect blossoms (CP) April Remove mulch covering (WNC); cultivate/water/frost protection; control pests. Frost protect blossoms. May Water if dry; nets for birds; harvest each 2 days; new plants remove blossoms; training of runners/hoeing. June Harvest (P, WNC); runner training; pest control; water if dry; renovate old beds after fruiting. July Pest control; fertilize as needed; water and cultivate. August Pest control; water if dry; fertilize in mid-August; check for mites. September Fertilize in mid-September; pest control; water liberally; thin to 6 plants per square foot; soil test for fertilizer and nematodes. October Water if dry; prepare new land; need ph greater than 5.8. November Locate mulch supply. December Broadcast mulch after ground has frozen (WNC).
Published by North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service