Tips for Renovating Strawberries
Strawberries, particularly the June-bearing types, tend to produce a lot of runners and daughter plants in a patch.
This leads to overcrowded plants that compete for light, moisture, and mineral nutrients leading to reduction in amount of berries produced in a strawberry patch, said Extension horticulturist Maurice Ogutu.
"In order to minimize competition among plants and maintain a productive June-bearing strawberry patch over an extended period of time, the patch needs to be renovated immediately at the end of harvesting season every year," said Maurice Ogutu.
"The patch can be renovated until the plants have had three to four fruitings or until the plants are not performing optimally. The plants that are not performing optimally may be destroyed and a new strawberry planting established on a different location."
Renovation is the removal of a higher percentage of old strawberry plants from established plantings to allow natural replacement with new daughter plants that will produce more fruits. Renovation leads to thinning out of old plants hence providing more space for new plants and keeping plants in a row that is easy to pick. Weeds are also controlled during renovation and it enables fertilizer to be applied and incorporated into the soil.
When the strawberry plant has fruited, its ability to further fruit is drastically reduced. The patch can only be rejuvenated by removing most of the old plants so that the remaining plants can produce runners that in turn develop into new plants. The new plants will produce more berries hence higher yields from the patch.
"Renovation should be done every year no more than one week after the harvest," he said. "The strawberry plants tend to go into a semi-dormant stage of growth for a period of four to six weeks after harvest. If the weather condition is dry during this period, the plants may resume growth when a suitable rainfall occur or irrigated that is why it is recommended that renovation be done during this period."
Renovate strawberries by following directions below:
- Mow the foliage by clipping the leaves and leaf stalks about one inch above the crowns. Mowing plants to ground level may injure the crown where the runners arise from and this may lead to the death of the plants. Do not mow plants if they are unhealthy.
- Narrow the strawberry row to 10-12 inches wide. Rake the leaves from the selected area. Remove plants outside the selected area using a shovel or a rototiller. Weeds are controlled at the same time and the weeds in the selected areas where strawberry plants were not removed can be hand pulled or controlled by applying recommended herbicides.
- Apply complete fertilizer or fertilizer types recommended for your area at the rates of one to two pounds per 100 square feet by broadcasting on the patch.
- Water the plants or irrigate by applying one inch or more of water. If it is too dry, apply water to ensure that the root zone is well soaked up to a depth of six inches. Water will dissolve and leach fertilizers to the plant root zone. Water will activate herbicides to control weeds, and also stimulate growth of new shoots, runners, and daughter plants.