The mostly warm weather we’ve had this fall has our strawberries growing very well.
Last year the weather stayed warm most of the winter and we had too much growth. The plants put on too many crowns over the winter (7 to 8 in a lot of cases), hurting our berry size and quality. For good fruit size, we want to see 4 to 5 crowns per plant. Luckily, according to the forecast, we’re going to cool down next week and we’ll hopefully have a more normal growing season this year.
A few of these plants have fallen behind the growth of their neighbors.
If you start seeing some plants falling behind or looking stunted, check for a couple of things. Check to see if the plant was transplanted to deep, like the photo below.
This plant was transplanted too deep and the growing point is below the soil.
If the growing point is too low in the soil or covered by the soil, growth is going to be slowed and it will never catch up. Ideally, we want to see the crown above the soil line and the uppermost roots just below the soil, like the photo below shows.
Proper transplanting depth. The growing point is above the soil line and the uppermost roots are just below the soil.
Another thing to check for is J-rooting. J-rooted plants may be stunted or they may dry out and die.
J-rooted strawberry transplant.
Planting too deep and J-rooting both occur from inexperience and/or getting in too much of a hurry while transplanting. There’s not much that can be done for a plant once it is stunted, but it is a good learning experience for planting next year.
This fall, growers should keep an eye out for root and crown diseases like Phytophthora and anthracnose as well as four legged foliage feeders. Take a look at the Southern Regional Small Fruit Consortium production and IPM guides for more info on strawberry production.