|Fragraria subsp. var.||Strawberry|
Fragaria is a genus of flowering plants in the rose family, Rosaceae, commonly known as strawberries for their edible fruits. Originally straw was used as a mulch in cultivating the plants, which may have led to its name. There are more than 20 described species and many hybrids and cultivars. The most common strawberries grown commercially are cultivars of the Garden strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa). Strawberries have a taste that varies by cultivar, and ranges from quite sweet to rather tart. Strawberries are an important commercial fruit crop, widely grown in all temperate regions of the world.
Much smaller and more delicious than the ordinary supermarket varieties are Alpine Strawberries.
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Berries grown November to January may be extraordinarily flavorful, but productivity and taste often are harmed by rainstorms. Usually early April is the peak for fruit quantity/quality in Southern California, with cooler areas peaking later. By June most commercial growers in Southern California switch from selling fresh to selling to freezers, and then get totally out of the market. Producers for the farmers market keep selling fresh through the hot summer, though the strawberries ripen very fast and so are softer and have less taste. In addition to seasonal variation, the fruit quality also fluctuates with weather. Sun during the day, and cool nights produce the best fruit, while cloudy days and warm nights poorer fruit.
Another factor is when plants get overloaded with too much fruit, they cannot sweeten. In Orange County, California, berries can be delicious in February, then become watery in March when they are tired from fruit production. In April fruit quality can shoot up again as the plants recover and grow enough to catch up with the fruit production.
Due to all of these variables, fruit from the same plants (and growers) can vary a great deal from week to week, going from incredibly tasty to bland or sour.
As soon as a Strawberry is picked, it will stop ripening. It can get a little darker in color, and may lose acidity, but otherwise the flavor will remain the same. Therefore, you should pick strawberries as close to ripeness as possible. Some varieties are white, or lighter colors, so color is not always an indication of ripeness. At the markets, aroma is often, though not always a good indicator of fruit quality. If you can smell them as you walk past a stand, that's usually a very good sign. Size however does not have any relation to flavor. Some varieties are much larger, and some fruit much larger, but that does not bear any relation to whether the larger or smaller ones will taste better. Growers often prefer larger varieties because they are easier to harvest and pack.
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Pests and diseases
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This is a simple list of named types and cultivars of strawberry, with some information about each. Following this section is a list of all Fragraria species.
- Galante - Deep orange-red when fully ripe, its most remarkable qualities are its texture, which is delicate and juicy, and its intense flavor, which has hints of melon. Bred by David Small of California Giant and introduced about six years ago, it has not succeeded as a commercial variety because the berries bruise easily and they rot quickly after rainstorms
- Garden Strawberry - (F. ananassa) originated in Europe in the 18th century from chance crosses of two wild species, the Virginian and Chilean, inheriting from the former hardiness, sharp flavor and redness.
- Virginian strawberries - almost never cultivated for sale as fresh fruit, but one can enjoy their essence in the exquisite Tiptree Little Scarlet strawberry jam made by Wilkin & Sons in England, which is available at the Continental Shop in Santa Monica ($13.99 for 12 ounces) and from various mail-order sources. For home gardeners, Wellik sells two selections of Virginian.
- Pineberry - It was introduced by Hans De Jongh, a farmer in Etten-Leur, the Netherlands, whose family used to grow Little Scarlet, and who now specializes in ultra-high-quality heirloom strawberries, all raised in greenhouses. "Its flavor does not resemble pineapples in my opinion, but it's very juicy and aromatic," he says. "The smell is like perfume. Even if you have only a few strawberries, you can smell them in your whole room." He does not know the original name of this variety, which he obtained from an elderly French strawberry variety collector, but he believes that it dates back to the first generation of crosses between the Virginian and Chilean species in the 18th century. When he found the original plant it was small and sickly, so he used tissue culture, a laboratory method of propagation, to rid it of disease. When his marketer, VitalBerry (a major international berry company) first offered this oddity to sellers they demurred at the high prices, currently $5.40 for 4.4 ounces retail. "They said, ‘Oof, little soft strawberries, we don't like it,' " De Jongh remembers. But in time it caught on with chefs and high-end retailers, and now is sold in small quantities from London to Moscow.
- Strasberry - a variety with a flavor and aroma even better than that of Mara des Bois, being marketed as "strasberry which he believes may actually be an old German home garden favorite, Mieze Schindler.
- Chandler - patented in 1979, is a longtime favorite, juicy and tender. Commercial growers long ago moved on to firmer, higher yielding varieties, and Chandler is getting hard to find even at farmers markets.
- Seascape - (1991) has refreshing acidity and quite good flavor, but still lacks the complexity of the very best varieties. Still popular for local markets, it has not worked for California shippers because it turns dark and soft quickly.
- Camarosa - (1994), intended as a firmer, earlier-bearing successor to Chandler, represented a step down in eating quality, although it does not always deserve its negative repute in some quarters. It can in fact be reasonably aromatic; the real problem is its texture, which can be excessively firm, dry and crunchy. Camarosa still accounts for almost a quarter of the acreage in San Diego and Orange counties, but that's just 1% of plantings statewide.
- Gaviota - (1998) is relatively low in acidity, and so can taste sweeter than many other varieties; when well grown it has very good flavor, making it one of the best UC selections. Comparatively soft and low-yielding, it is not much grown commercially but common at farmers markets.
- Ventana - (2003), the successor to Camarosa, was selected because it produces more fruit early in the season, with fewer culls, both important economic considerations for southern growers; but it's lighter in color, and the flavor, alas, is mediocre. Forty-six percent of the acreage in San Diego and Orange counties, and 9% statewide.
- Albion - (2006) is a step up from its predecessor, Diamante. It's large, relatively dark, conical and firm, but not unduly so; at its best, it is pleasantly sweet and aromatic. Accounts for 49% of plantings in the Santa Maria district, and 34% statewide.
Alpine strawberries, also called "wild" strawberries or fraises des bois, are a different species (Fragaria vesca), much smaller, softer and more aromatic than most varieties of the common garden strawberry (F. ananassa). A romantic allure accompanies them, but they're only at their best when fully developed and ripe; underripe fruits are sour, overripe ones are mushy, and tiny, scrawny specimens covered with seeds are bitter.
Their shelf life is the blink of an eye, and they're insanely laborious to pick, so just a few growers raise them, notably Pudwill Berry Farms of Nipomo and Jaime Farms of City of Industry, which mainly sell these fragile berries at Santa Monica Wednesday. Pudwill recently cut back their plants and won't have wild strawberries for another month or so; Jaime will have them through June or July, but in small quantities, which tend to be scooped up by purveyors for restaurants, so one must stop by as the market opens or reserve in advance. Really, the ideal approach is to grow one's own; Michael Wellik of the Strawberry Store in Delaware, an unparalleled resource, sells plants and seed of 20 varieties.
- Mara des Bois - introduced by the Marionnet nursery in France in 1991, contains high levels of methyl anthranilate, the volatile compound that perfumes fraises des bois. Small to medium in size and deep red, with soft, melting flesh, it has such an intense aroma when ripe that many people mistakenly suppose it to be a hybrid of wild and cultivated species. It's the standard of quality for strawberries at French markets, but the only source in Southern California is Chino Nojo, the chic, famously secretive farm north of San Diego (6123 Calzada Del Bosque, Rancho Santa Fe;  756-3184; no website). Both Wellik and Nourse Farms sell the plants. 
There are more than 20 different Fragaria species worldwide. Key to the classification of strawberry species is recognizing that they vary in the number of chromosomes. There are seven basic types of chromosomes that they all have in common. However, they exhibit different polyploidy. Some species are diploid, having two sets of the seven chromosomes (14 chromosomes total). Others are tetraploid (four sets, 28 chromosomes total), hexaploid (six sets, 42 chromosomes total), octoploid (eight sets, 56 chromosomes total), or decaploid (ten sets, 70 chromosomes total).
As a rough rule (with exceptions), strawberry species with more chromosomes tend to be more robust and produce larger plants with larger berries (Darrow).
- Diploid species
- Fragaria daltoniana J.Gay (Himalayas)
- Fragaria iinumae Makino (East Russia, Japan)
- Fragaria nilgerrensis Schlecht. ex J.Gay (South and Southeast Asia)
- Fragaria nipponica Makino (Japan)
- Fragaria nubicola Lindl. ex Lacaita (Himalayas)
- Fragaria vesca Coville - Woodland Strawberry (Northern Hemisphere)
- Fragaria viridis Duchesne (Europe, Central Asia)
- Fragaria yezoensis H.Hara (Northeast Asia)
- Tetraploid species
- Hexaploid species
- Octoploid species and hybrids
- Fragaria ×ananassa Duchesne - Garden strawberry
- Fragaria chiloensis (L.) Mill. - Beach strawberry (Western Americas)
- Fragaria chiloensis subsp. chiloensis forma chiloensis
- Fragaria chiloensis subsp. chiloensis forma patagonica (Argentina, Chile)
- Fragaria chiloensis subsp. lucida (E. Vilm. ex Gay) Staudt (coast of British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, California)
- Fragaria chiloensis subsp. pacifica Staudt (coast of Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, California)
- Fragaria chiloensis subsp. sandwicensis (Decne.) Staudt - Template:OkinaŌhelo papa ([[Hawaii|HawaiTemplate:Okinai]])
- Fragaria iturupensis Staudt - Iturup Strawberry (Iturup, Kuril Islands)
- Fragaria virginiana Mill. - Virginia Strawberry (North America)
- Decaploid species and hybrids
Numerous other species have been proposed. Some are now recognized as subspecies of one of the above species (see GRIN taxonomy database).
Strawberry farm in DaHu, Taiwan
Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture
|Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture|
Strawberry. The species of Fragaria, grown for the fruit.
The strawberry is an herbaceous perennial. It naturally propagates itself by means of runners that form chiefly after the blooming season. Seedage is practised only with the Alpines, and in raising new varieties. Division of the crown is useful for propagating varieties that are practically runnerless, as the Bush Alpine and Pan-American. The runner plants, either transplanted or allowed to remain where they form, will bear the following year. Usually the plants will continue to bear for five or six years, but the first and second crops are generally the best. Good results are sometimes secured from plants over ten years old, especially when they are grown under hill training and intensive culture, but this is a special practice. It is therefore the custom to plow up strawberry beds after they have borne from one to three crops. The better the land and the more intensive the cultivation, the shorter the rotation. In market-gardening areas and in some of the very best strawberry regions, the plants are allowed to fruit but once. The plants therefore occupy the land only one year and the crop works into schemes of short-rotation cropping. When the bed is fruited more than one year it should be renewed immediately after the crop is harvested. In the case of matted or spaced rows, this consists of reducing the number of old plants, using the plow, disc-harrow, cultivator, or hoe, and in stirring the soil to provide favorable conditions for the rooting of new runners. It is customary, also, to mow the leaves and burn them. In the case of hill or hedge-row plants, renewal consists of mowing and in drawing about an inch of fresh soil around the plants, so that new roots will form above the old ones. Throughout the North, and as far south as Kentucky and Missouri, beds are fruited but one year, occasionally two, rarely longer. In Florida and the coastal plain of the Gulf states, the plants occupy the ground but six to eight months. In the lower Mississippi Valley and on the Pacific coast, beds are fruited three to six years. The strawberry delights in a rich rather moist soil and a cool season. It can be grown in the cool part of the year in the South and thereby becomes one of the most cosmopolitan of fruits. The young plants may be separated from the parent and put into new plantations in August; but under average conditions in the North it is usually better to wait until early the following spring, since the weather is likely to be too hot and dry in the late summer or fall. South of Virginia, Tennessee, and Arkansas, and on the Pacific coast, most of the planting is done in the fall or winter months. Plants that have not borne are best for setting. They are plants of the season: that is, plants which start in the spring of 1916 are fit for planting in the late summer or fall of 1916 or in the spring of 1917. These plants have many long, fresh, light-colored roots. Fig. 3714 shows such a plant, with the roots trimmed for planting. Fig. 3715 shows a plant that has borne. This plant bore fruit, say, in 1915, and has thrown up a new crown in 1916. The old dead crown is seen at the right. The young growth is lateral to this old crown. The roots are relatively few and are hard and black. These plants sometimes make good plantations under extra good care, but generally they should be avoided.
Two- or 3-inch pots are sometimes plunged under the new runners in June and July, and they become filled with roots in two or three weeks. These pot-grown plants are excellent for fall setting in the home-garden, but they are seldom employed in extensive commercial practice on account of their expense. Almost as good results can be secured by setting strong layer plants. (Fig. 3716.)
In Florida and in the coastal plain of Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, beds need to be reset annually, in September or October; plants set at this time produce a good crop in the following February, March, and April. The plants may be produced at home, but more commonly are secured from the North.
In hill training, each plant is allowed a space by itself, cultivation is given both ways, and no runners are allowed to set. Hill or stool training is practised commercially in Florida, the Gulf States, and on the Pacific coast, and, to a slight extent, in northern market- gardens. It is the most practicable method under irrigation, and in a very humid climate. The chief disadvantage is the heavy expense of removing all the runners. Hills give choicer berries than narrow matted rows, but the yield is not so heavy. For commercial results, plants are generally trained in narrow rows. The old method was to plant in rows 3 to 3 1/2 feet apart and the plants from 12 to 15 inches apart in rows, keeping off the runners until late in July and then allowing the runners to grow and root at will, making a wide matted row. In this system some plants are almost on top of others, the roots barely in the ground, and they suffer in a season of drought. The rows are so wide that to pick fruit in the center it is almost necessary to crush fruits on the outside of the row. This system gives few large first-class fruits, and is now passing away. The largest and highest colored fruits are found on plants along the outside of the rows; therefore have as many outside rows as possible. This may be accomplished by having rows closer together and much narrower. The rows are made from 30 to 36 inches apart and the plants from 18 to 24 or even 30 inches apart in the rows, much depending on the prolificacy of the variety as a plant-maker. If the plants used for a new bed are strong and start into growth vigorously, the first runners are used, as it has been found that under most conditions the plants about twelve months old yield the greatest number of fine fruits. These first runners are usually "bedded-in," i. e., planted by hand, training them along the wide way of the rows, using from four to eight of the first runners and cutting off those growing later. This method of planting allows cultivation both ways until the runners start, retaining moisture and saving labor in hoeing. In the "narrow matted row," which is now used more than any other method of training, the runners are allowed to set at random until they have made a row 12 to 24 inches wide; subsequent runners that encroach upon the tilled middles are cut off. In the "spaced row," the early runners are set by hand at more or less regular distances apart until a row 12 to 24 inches wide has been formed; thereafter all other runners are cut off. In the "hedge row," two to four runners are set from each mother plant, and are kept in alignment, forming a single, double, or triple hedge row; all other runners are removed. The drift is steadily away from the matted row toward the spaced row and hedge row. Surplus runners are pulled off or are cut off with a knife, hoe, or one of the many types of runner-cutters that may be attached to the cultivator. Circular cutters are used for hill plants. In late fall, the matted row may be thinned by pulling out the weaker plants with an iron rake or spike-toothed harrow.
In the North, strawberries are usually mulched in the fall, in order to protect them from alternate freezing and thawing in the winter and early spring and to prevent the soil from heaving. In some cases the mulch is allowed to remain on the plants rather late in the spring, in order to retard the season of bloom. Sometimes the crop may be retarded a week or ten days by this means. It should not be removed until settled spring weather has come, nor left on so long that the plants bleach. The mulch is more necessary in regions of light and precarious snowfall than in those in which the snow blanket is deep and lies all winter. In regions of deep and continuous snowfall, a heavy mulch is likely to prove injurious. Experience has shown that the best mulch is some strawy material. Along the seacoast, salt hay from the tide marshes is much used. In interior places clean straw, in which there is no grain to sprout and to make weeds, is very largely employed. (Fig. 3717.) In the South, pine needles are used. Sometimes loose strawy manure is used, and the mulch adds fertilizer to the soil as well as affords protection. Corn fodder, leaves, brakes, seaweed, evergreen boughs, and other wild herbage are used occasionally. Cowpeas and sorghum are grown for mulching material when straw is scarce. The practice of growing oats, barley, or some other small grain between the rows of strawberries, to fall down and mulch the berries, is not generally advisable. Under ordinary conditions the mulch is 3 or 4 inches deep over the plants after it is fairly well packed down. It is not always possible, however, to mulch as heavily as this, since the material is likely to be expensive when one has a large area. The mulch is usually applied late in the fall after the ground has frozen, and, if the material is abundant, both the plants and the intervening spaces are covered. In the spring the mulch is raked from the plants as soon as they begin to start. Some persons allow it to lie between the rows as a cover to retain moisture and to keep the berries clean. The most expert growers, however, prefer to take the mulch from the field and to till the plantation once or twice before the plants are in bloom; the material is then returned and spread on the loose soil between the rows and beneath the vines. In the northern prairie states, heavy mulching is essential. For western Minnesota and Dakota a covering of at least 6 inches of straw is advised. This mulch is easily provided, since straw is so abundant in that country that it is often burned as the readiest means of getting rid of it. When not mulched in that region, the plants are likely to be killed outright or to start with a very weak growth. Mulching for winter protection is not necessary south of Virginia and Missouri, but mulching to keep the fruit clean is as profitable in the South as in the North. The fruiting mulch is applied after the plants begin to bloom. Pine "straw" is used most. A large handful is dropped upon each plant; the leaves soon push through. Rarely is it desirable to cover the entire area between the rows. On the Pacific coast, strawberries are not mulched, as it is not necessary for winter protection, and it would interfere with irrigation.
Strawberry flowers may be either perfect or imperfect, and the nature of the flower is characteristic of the variety. In some kinds, the flower is perfect or hermaphrodite (having both stamens and pistils) and is consequently self-fertile. These are commonly called staminate varieties. In others it is pistillate, producing little or no pollen, and requiring a pollen-bearing variety to pollinate it. There are no modern varieties bearing only staminate or sterile flowers, although such forms were common about 1840. The perfect-flowered varieties differ greatly in the amount of pollen they produce. Some, as the Crescent and Glen Mary, bear so few stamens that they are practically pistillate or sterile. Any variety will fertilize any other variety if it bears sufficient pollen and if the two kinds bloom at the same time. The variety used as a pollinizer does not affect the shape, color, and quality of the fruit of the pistillate sort, as was once thought. It is preferable to plant an early-blooming pollinizer on one side of the rows of the pistillate sort, and a late-blooming pollinizer on the other side. When planting pistillate varieties, every third row should be a pollen-bearing kind. Pistillate varieties as a class are somewhat more productive and hardy than staminate varieties as a class; but this fact has little weight, since some staminate sorts are fully as prolific and hardy as the best pistillate varieties. It is an inconvenience to be obliged to mix varieties for pollination; hence pistillate varieties are steadily declining in popularity. In time, all North American varieties will be staminate, as is now the case in England. The horticultural bearing of the sexual characters of the strawberry flower was first clearly explained in this country by Nicholas Longworth, of Cincinnati (see page 1585; also his essay on the subject in his "Cultivation of the Grape," 1846, and the "Strawberry Report" of the Cincinnati Horticultural Society, 1848). When many of the achenes or "seeds" of the strawberry are not fertilized or are killed by frost or other means, the berry fails to develop at that point and a "nubbin," or imperfect berry, is the result. Nubbins are usually most abundant late in the fruiting-season, when the pollen-supply is small and when the plants are relatively exhausted.
Ordinarily the common varieties bear but once a year, in the spring. Under certain conditions of temperature and moisture they may become "double croppers," and give a fall crop, also. In the South, particularly in southern California, the bearing season may be extended over several months; but no varieties were consistently everbearing in the North until 1898, when Samuel Cooper, of Delevan, New York, found the Pan-American in a row of Bismarck. European everbearers, which are hybrids of the common strawberry and the Alpine, do not succeed here. The numerous descendants of the Pan-American are true everbearers; they yield a small quantity of berries throughout the season from spring-set plants. It is better, however, to cut off all blossoms until midsummer; then there will be considerable fruit from August until frost, but not so much as a good crop from a spring-bearing variety. The culture of the everbearers does not differ materially from that of other sorts, save in the cutting of the blossoms weekly, which is a heavy expense. They require rich soil and an equable supply of moisture; they fail in a dry season. The market for berries in late summer and fall is limited, and the cost of picking is heavy. The following spring, a year from the tune they were set, the everbearers produce a good crop, perhaps equaling that of single-bearing sorts. This is one point in which the North American everbearers are distinctly superior to those of Europe. The everbearers have little commercial future merely for supplying summer and fall berries, but their habit of bearing a heavy spring crop, also, may make them useful to some growers who cater to personal or near markets. They are not likely to find favor with those who grow strawberries for the wholesale market. The everbearers are valuable mainly for the home-garden.
New varieties of strawberries are raised from seed with the greatest ease. The generations of strawberries are short and new varieties soon find favor. The varieties change so frequently in popular estimation that it is impracticable to recommend a list of them in a work like this. The first great American berry was the Hovey, introduced in 1838. (Fig. 1861, Vol. III.) The most popular single variety has been the Wilson (Fig. 3720), introduced in 1854 and still popular in Canada and the northern Pacific states. It held almost undisputed control of the market from 1860 to 1880, when the Crescent and Sharpless secured recognition. These three are the most important North American varieties; two-thirds of the 348 varieties of known parentage have descended from them. Other old favorites, now no longer grown, are the Cumberland, Triumph, Downer Prolific, and Charles Downing. European varieties do not succeed here; notable exceptions are Jucunda, and Triomphe. Over 1,800 varieties of North American origin have been introduced but less than 150 of these have attained prominence. The oldest North American variety now cultivated is the Longworth, introduced in 1851; it is still prized in the San Francisco market. The dominant commercial varieties of today are the Dunlap, Haverland, Marshall, Klondyke, Aroma, Gandy, Glen Mary, Bubach, Brandywine, Clark, Warfield. At least fifty others are grown to a considerable extent. The accompanying pictures (Figs. 3720-3725) show types of American strawberries.
The strawberry has been in cultivation but a short time, as compared with other fruits. It has been grown in gardens less than 600 years, and was not cultivated commercially to any extent until early in the nineteenth century. The first record of garden culture is in France, early in the fourteenth century. This was the wood strawberry, Fragaria vesca. The common wild strawberry of eastern North America, F. virginiana, was introduced into Europe early in the seventeenth century. Neither species showed much promise under cultivation. F. chiloensis, which is native to the Pacific coast of America, was brought to Europe from Chile in 1712, by M. Frezier, a Frenchman. See Fragaria. Although the berries are large, this species found little favor because of shy bearing and poor quality; it gave practically no improved varieties. Near the middle of the eighteenth century the Pine strawberry (referring to the pineapple fragrance of the fruit) appeared in Europe, and became the principal progenitor of the garden strawberry. The botanical origin of the Pine is obscure. One view is that it was a form of F. chiloensis; another, that it resulted from the hybridization of that species with F. virginiana in European gardens; all the early importations of the Chile were pistillate plants and varieties of the Scarlet were commonly planted with them. The first of the modern race of large-fruited varieties was the Keens' Seedling, originated by Michael Keens, of England, in 1819; it was a Pine, and from it have sprung most of the European varieties of today. The Hovey, from which modern North American varieties have descended in large measure, was undoubtedly a Pine in part, but there is considerable evidence that one of its parents was a variety of F. virginiana.
Wild strawberries were so abundant in North America that there was no garden culture of this fruit until about 1770. The Alpine and Hautbois types of strawberries (F. vesca and F. moschata) were introduced then from Europe, but did not become popular; preference was given to transplanted wildings of the Scarlet. These species have never been grown here except by a few amateurs. Commercial strawberry-culture began soon after 1800, mainly in the vicinity of the four largest towns of that period—Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. The varieties used were slightly improved forms of F. virginiana, notably Large Early Scarlet, Hudson's Bay, Early Hudson, and Crimson Cone. These persisted until the introduction of the Wilson. The first variety of any fruit produced in North America by hand-crossing was the Hovey, originated by C. M. Hovey, of Boston, in 1836. The Hovey was a failure as a market variety, except in a few places, but it was an excellent amateur variety and greatly increased interest in strawberry-culture. The heated discussion of "Longworth's Theory" (1841-1845) concerning sex in the strawberry also stimulated interest and offered a practical solution of a pressing cultural problem. As yet, however, the strawberry was mainly a fruit of the open fields and home-gardens; the commercial planting was very limited. The total quantity of fruit marketed in 1854 was less than 40,000 bushels, the product of about 1,400 acres.
The variety that marked the beginning of commercial strawberry-culture in North America was the Wilson, originated by James Wilson, of Albany, New York, in 1851. Until then, strawberry-culture had been difficult, and the results very uncertain; the Wilson thrived under even indifferent care. Its introduction was followed by a remarkable increase, coincident with the extension of railroads, in commercial planting. The "strawberry fever" that swept over the country between 1858 and 1870 has not been equaled in intensity by the boom days of any other fruit. The inevitable reaction came between 1870 and 1885. This was emphasized by the heavy losses from shipping berries long distances without refrigeration. The experiments of Parker Earle, of Cobden, Illinois, resulted in the first successful use of the modern refrigerator-car system, in 1887, and made possible the great shipping districts of today, many of which are over 1,000 miles from their markets. There are now approximately 150,000 acres of strawberries in the United States, and 14,000 acres in Canada. The value of the crop is $20,000,000 annually. The strawberry is fourth in commercial importance among deciduous fruits, being preceded by the apple, peach, and grape. The most important shipping districts, according to the Census of 1909, are Maryland, 14,292 acres; Tennessee, 10,761; Missouri, 9,048; New Jersey, 8,684; Michigan, 8,051; Arkansas, 7,361; Ontario, 7,702; Delaware, 7,194; Virginia, 6,606. Sussex County, Delaware, has the largest county acreage, with 6,404 acres in 1909.
There are several serious fungous diseases and insect pests of the strawberry. White grub is controlled by avoiding newly plowed sod land when setting the bed; weevil, by planting largely of pistillate varieties or profuse-blooming staminate sorts; leaf-roller, by spraying with arsenate of lead, and burning the leaves; root-louse, by setting clean plants in clean land. The several types of leaf-blight (Fig. 3726) may be prevented to a considerable extent by spraying with bordeaux, but it is more practicable to plant resistant varieties. The fundamental treatment of all these is to fruit the bed but once, or at most but twice, and to grow succeeding crops on other land, cleaning up the old plantation thoroughly after the last fruiting. Short, quick, and sharp rotations and clean culture do much to keep all enemies in check.
Strawberry-growing in the South.
The strawberry is by far the most important small-fruit grown in the South, being raised commercially in every state. The industry is more concentrated in the South than in the North. This concentration is probably due to the fact that nearly all of the strawberries are shipped by freight to distant markets. The strawberry industry in the South has developed as an independent unit, or as an adjunct to truck-growing rather than in connection with other fruit-growing enterprises.
An important consideration in growing strawberries for northern markets is the selection of a location where the soil and climatic conditions are conducive to early ripening of the fruit, so that there will be little competition from regions farther north. In many southern sections where strawberries are grown on a commercial scale, shipments practically cease as soon as berries from a more northern location begin to move in car lots. This is due to the fact that toward the end of the picking-season the berries are small and cannot compete successfully with the larger fruit from a region nearer the market that is just beginning to harvest its crop.
While strawberries are grown on nearly all types of soil in the South, sandy and gravelly loams are considered best. A warm quick soil, although poor, is preferable to a heavy retentive soil well supplied with plant-food. Plant-food can be supplied by the addition of fertilizers, but the physical condition of the soil can be modified only with difficulty and loss of time by cultivation, drainage, and the addition of humus. The soil for strawberries should be well supplied with humus in a well-decomposed state. Many growers think that new land is essential for good results, but when old soils are well supplied with organic matter they will yield as large crops as new soils.
Few soils in the South that are adapted to strawberry-growing are rich enough to produce large crops of fruit without the addition of fertilizers. Stable or barnyard manure is the best fertilizer for strawberries as it supplies both humus and plant-food. It is best, however, to apply the manure to the crop preceding the strawberries in order that it may become well-decomposed, and so that most of the weed seeds will have germinated.
When manure is not available, commercial fertilizers are applied in large quantities, but these should be used in connection with green-manure crops such as cowpeas, soybeans, velvet beans, vetch, and clovers. Some growers use as high as one ton, or even as much as a ton and a half, of commercial fertilizer to the acre. However, under most conditions, 1,000 to 1,500 pounds of a fertilizer analyzing 2 to 3 per cent of nitrogen, 6 to 8 per cent of phosphorus, and 6 to 8 per cent of potash, should be sufficient. On land where legumes have been grown, a part of the nitrogen may be left out. It should be borne in mind that large applications of commercial fertilizers are profitable only when used on soils in good physical condition, and well supplied with humus.
There are three systems of growing strawberries in the South: the hill system, the hedge-row system, and the matted-row system.
In the hill system the plants are set separately, one plant in a place, and no new plants are allowed to form. The plants are set 12 to 14 inches apart in rows 3 to 3 1/2 feet apart. This makes a large, vigorous plant, producing large uniform berries which ripen evenly. This system is followed in Florida. The quantity of berries produced is not so large as under the other systems, but the quality is better and the percentage of first-class berries larger.
In the hedge-row system the plants are set 10 to 18 inches apart in rows 3 to 3 1/2 feet apart, and runners are allowed to form plants along the row in a strip a few inches wide. This system is practised in the southern part of the lower tier of southern states, with the exception of Florida, where the hill system is used.
In the matted-row system the plants are set 15 to 18 inches apart in rows 3 1/2 to 4 feet apart. The runners are allowed to form plants 6 to 9 inches on either side of the row. Sometimes the plants are allowed completely to cover the ground. This system probably produces the largest crop of berries, but the fruit is usually smaller and does not ripen so well as under the other systems.
Strawberries are planted in Florida any time from June to November, whenever the soil and climatic conditions are favorable. In other southern sections of the South Atlantic and Gulf Coast states, the plants are set in late summer or autumn. In all other sections of the South, the plants are usually planted in late winter or early spring, and no crop is allowed to be produced the first season.
The length of time that a field should be allowed to produce fruit depends upon many conditions and varies in different parts of the South. In sections where weeds and grass grow very rapidly and where the picking-season is long, as is the case in the lower South, usually only one crop is grown. In the upper sections of the South, two or more crops are produced. Some growers allow their fields to produce five or six crops, but under most conditions two crops should be the maximum, as the fields become weedy and the soil compact. It is possible to clean up an old patch in such a way that large crops can be secured for several years, but very few growers give the fields the attention necessary to produce heavy crops of first-class fruit.
When the field bears more than one crop, the strawberries should be thoroughly cleaned out, thinned, cultivated, and fertilized after the fruit has been harvested. As a rule, the best crop is produced on new plantings and for this reason frequent renewal is recommended.
Cultivation should begin soon after the plants are set, and should be continued whenever weeds start or a crust forms. Frequent shallow cultivation will make it unnecessary to do much hand-hoeing or hand-weeding. A cultivator which merely breaks the surface without disturbing the roots is to be preferred. Any weeds which interfere with the development of plants or fruits during the picking-season are pulled by hand, or cut off with sharp hoes.
In most sections of the South, some form of mulch is used to hold moisture during the picking-season when the soil is not stirred, to keep the berries clean, and to prevent "heaving out" in regions where freezes occur. The materials used for mulch are pine straw, oat, wheat, or rye straw, leaves, and marsh hay. These materials are of value as humus when turned under. In sections where freezes do not occur, the mulch is usually applied in late winter.
For best results in growing strawberries a good system of rotation should be followed. In any system of rotation, a leguminous crop should be turned under once in three or four years, and a cultivated crop grown on the area the season before the strawberry plants are set. The following system of rotation is a good one for the South:
In sections where vegetables are not grown commercially, oats may follow the cowpeas turned under the second season.
The varieties of strawberries grown in the South are Klondyke, Missionary, Lady Thompson, Excelsior, Aroma, Gandy, Chesapeake, and Early Ozark. In the lower sections of the South, the Klondyke and Missionary are grown more than all others. For a succession of crops the Excelsior or Early Ozark may be grown for early fruit, the Missionary, Klondyke, and Lady Thompson for medium, and the Aroma or Gandy for late ripening. In the upper sections of the South, the Early Ozark, Chesapeake, Klondyke, Aroma, and Gandy are all grown, but very rarely does any grower raise more than two varieties for commercial purposes.
As a large part of the strawberries grown in the South are shipped to distant markets, they must be picked before they are fully ripe. For long distances the berries should be fully grown and about three-fourths ripe. When picked before they are at all colored the berries will shrink and wither, making them unfit for sale.
The berries should be well graded and packed before being shipped. When experienced pickers are employed the best results can be secured by grading the berries in the field, as they are picked, so as to avoid rehandling and the consequent bruising and deterioration of the fruit. The common practice, however, is for expert packers to do the grading and packing in a packing-shed to which the fruit is delivered by the pickers. The top layer of berries should be placed so as to hold them in place, but care should be taken not to put small inferior berries in the center and large berries on top. All types of berry boxes are in use in the South, but the tendency is toward a standard full-size quart box. In some sections of the South, particularly in Louisiana, pint boxes are used for the early shipments. The fruits carry better and the price received is higher; later in the season as fruits become more abundant and the price is lower, fruit from these same regions is shipped in quart boxes in crates holding twenty-four or thirty-two quarts. A long narrow box is objectionable.
Berries which are well graded and sorted and put in clean, neat, attractive packages of standard sizes command the highest price and sell most readily. The type of crate depends upon the boxes used. Any crate that is substantially built and well ventilated is satisfactory, but the cost is an important consideration, as they are not returned to the shipper. The largest crate that can be handled conveniently is the one to use, as the large ones are cheaper in proportion to the quantity of berries they carry. The twenty-four- and thirty-two- quart crates are in most common use, although in some sections the sixty-quart crate is employed. Crates with hinged lids have the advantage that they can be opened easily and quickly, and as a result invite inspection. A large part of the Florida crop is packed in quart boxes which are placed in pony refrigerators for shipment to northern markets.
The strawberry in California and northward.
California conditions include both those most favorable and most trying for the growth of strawberries. There are situations where, through local topography and proximity to the ocean, winter temperatures are very seldom too low for the growth and fruiting of the plants and where, by summer irrigation to maintain this continuous activity of the plants, it is possible to gather fruit every month in the year. This fact is not, made of much commercial account, however, nor is it widely true that one can have strawberries all the year round in the open air. It is true, however, that even on the lowlands, where the commercial crops are chiefly grown; the winter is so mild that strawberries begin to ripen in shipping quantities as early as March and by proper cultivation and irrigation the fruiting is continued until late in the autumn, and the grower has therefore a very short closed season. The trying condition for the strawberry is found in the long dry summer, which enforces dormancy as early as June on light loams in the more arid localities of the interior. Such soils become dry and hot to a depth of several inches in spite of surface cultivation and cause the dwindling and death of a shallow-rooting plant like the strawberry unless frequent irrigation is begun in time. This trouble is less acute on more retentive soils in regions of lower summer temperature and greater rainfall, and plants in such situations may survive the summer dormancy, but it is true that everywhere in California and even in the more humid states on the north that strawberry-growing without irrigation results either in failure or only partial satisfaction and the venture is seldom to be commended. It is usually so easy, however, to secure the small amount of water necessary for home production, and the plant when fairly treated is so highly productive, that a general exhortation to strawberry-growing on an irrigation basis is fully warranted.
There are several species of strawberries indigenous to California, and they are of both littoral and alpine types. Albert F. Etter, of Ettersburg, Humboldt County, California, has worked continuously with these species for more than twenty-five years, by selecting seedlings, and by crossing the species among themselves and with the leading cultivated varieties. He has established an Ettersburg group of new varieties, which for vigorous growth of plant, resistance of drought and true everbearing habit are very notable. Some of them have strictly evergreen foliage under California conditions. For abundant fruiting and for firmness of fruit, some of these varieties have shipping and canning characters new to the strawberry. Etter describes his work in detail in the Pacific Rural Press of San Francisco for March 4, 18, and April 1, 1916.
The varieties chiefly grown in California are different from those popular at the East. New varieties from the eastern states and from Europe are freely tried, but few are successful and they retain local popularity after abandonment in their birthplaces. A striking instance of this fact is the continued popularity of Longworth Prolific, Sharpless, Monarch of the West, Wilson, Albany, and the like. Longworth has survived more than fifty years' continued growing. Other popular varieties are Melinda, Jessie, Dollar, Brandywine, Marshall, and Lady Thompson. Brandywine (Fig. 3730) is the most widely approved variety in the state and is standard in southern California, Excelsior and Klondyke standing next in popularity as early varieties, and Americus and Iowa as autumn-fruiting varieties. In the central regions of the state, the Dollar and Marshall lead among the newer kinds and the Banner is exclusively grown by some producers for the San Francisco market. Jessie and Dollar are largely grown for shipment to interior states and to the northern coast before the local fruit ripens.
The growth of strawberries is almost wholly in matted rows, the rows usually occupying low ridges only sufficiently elevated to allow the slightly depressed intervals to serve as irrigation ditches and as walks during picking. The slight elevation of the plants also assists in surface drainage, when heavy rains fall during the early part of the fruiting-season, and this promotes early growth and fruiting of the plants. Where the soil is too coarse to permit free rise of water from the depressed ditches, the conditions are reversed and low levees are made to inclose blocks of plants which are irrigated by flooding the inclosures. In the chief commercial regions a fine loam is used and irrigation from the small ditches on both sides of the ridges, which are about 2 feet wide, is the ruling method. Nearly level land is selected and grading is done before planting to reduce dry knolls and fill low places so that the water will flow slowly and will evenly moisten the whole field. Subirrigation by tile has been often advocated but never has been employed to any extent.
One of the chief strawberry-shipping districts in central California is characterized by a shallow loam underlaid by an impervious indurated clay or hardpan, which prevents the percolation of the irrigation water and enables growers to maintain a large acreage by means of the small water-supply secured by windmills. In this case water is applied very frequently, even oftener than once a week in some cases, but the total amount for the season is small. Quite in contrast to this is the growth on light deep loams where water sinks so rapidly that the plants suffer, although water is almost constantly running in the ditches. In such cases mulching and sprinkling are the price of success, and these are too costly except on a small scale for home supply. The largest producing districts have soils midway between the extremes above noted, viz., deep retentive loams, situated rather low in the valleys and with irrigation available either by ditch system or by wells both flowing and pumped. The pump wells require usually only a short lift, and abundant water is secured cheaply by the use of modern pumps and motors.
In addition to supplying the home markets, which are very good, California strawberry-growers find a good outlet for the fruit all through the region west of the Missouri River. Southern California supplies the southern portion of this district, while the growers in central California, chiefly near Florin in Sacramento County, make large shipments eastward as far as Colorado and northward to all the great interior states and to Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia before the locally grown fruit in those regions is available.
The states of Oregon and Washington in their areas lying west of the Cascade Mountains have conditions excellently suited to the growth of the strawberry. Their conditions more nearly resemble those in the eastern states than any other part of the coast. The cooler weather and more abundant moisture give a better spring season than that of California, but the season is on the whole much shorter because of the longer winter. Irrigation is also necessary in most places for continued fruiting during the summer. The most famous district is Hood River, Oregon, where arid conditions east of the Cascade Mountains are modified by western influences which reach through the gap in these mountains where the Columbia River flows through. Irrigation is regularly employed and a large commercial product grown. The varieties chiefly grown in this region and in adjacent parts of Washington and Idaho are of local origin, the Hood River (Clark Seedling) and Magoon being widely approved. Jessie, Sharpless, Wilson, Haverland, Crescent, Cumberland, Jucunda, and Parker Earle are also commended by growers in the northwestern states.
Cultivation of the strawberry on home grounds.
Of all the fruits which can be grown in the garden, the strawberry offers to the amateur the greatest inducements on account of ease of growing, delicious quality, long season and comparatively quick-bearing habit, and wide geographical range. No garden should be without this important fruit. It can be grown in almost any soil and in so many different ways that even in a most crowded garden some space may be found for it.
The strawberry thrives best in a sunny location but will also do well in partial shade like that from small-fruit bushes or young fruit-trees. Heavy shade draws the vines up, and while a luxuriant growth of foliage ensues there will be but little fruit. On the other hand southern slopes where the berries are exposed to the unbroken rays of the sun will result in scalded fruit unless some artificial protection can be given.
The location of the strawberry-bed in the garden is very important and should be governed to a large extent by the other crops. Remembering that the strawberry will occupy the land for at least two seasons, such tall-growing crops as corn, pole beans, or asparagus should not be planted too near. Soils often govern location to a great degree. While the strawberry will thrive in almost any soil it is better to choose one which has good water-holding capacity, for although the strawberry will make splendid plant growth in light soil the fruit will not be so good or large if there is a lack of water at the fruiting-season. While artificial watering may be practised, it is often done at the expense of quality in the fruit. Soils may be easily improved. A light soil can be well filled with manure or humus of some sort, and a heavy soil drained with tile. If possible the land should have a slight slope to turn off surplus water in the winter, but if this is impossible, be sure that the bed is not placed in a depression where water collects during the winter.
The preparation of the soil is very important, for a finely rooted plant like the strawberry needs soil well pulverized and free from clods of earth. The land should be planted at least one year with some crop which will require good cultivation. Avoid planting on sod land or land where witch-grass and perennial weeds are abundant. Spading to a depth of at least 1 foot and mixing through the soil a good liberal amount of well-rotted manure will be good preparation for the strawberry-bed. There is, however, on soil naturally rich in nitrogen, danger in putting on too much manure, as an excess will often produce foliage but not fruit. Other fertilizers should be added during the season as the plants grow. Mixed fertilizer should contain about 5 per cent of nitrogen, 10 per cent of phosphoric acid, and from 5 to 6 per cent of potash. All of the artificial fertilizers should not be applied at one time. It is best to make at least three applications during the season as the plants grow and the amount will be governed by the growth of the plants. Artificial fertilizers should not be spread on the foliage. Generally speaking, one pound of the mixture given above in three applications should be ample for six plants during the growing season.
Having prepared the ground as outlined, the next question to settle is the system under which to grow the bed. There are three systems which may be used for the garden strawberry-bed: the wide matted-row, the hedge-row, and the single-hill systems; and as the plan of a system depends very much on the variety grown it will be necessary to consider variety in this connection. In the selection of varieties for the home-garden, the following conditions should be carefully considered: quality, attractiveness of the fruit, productiveness, vigor of plants, season. Many very productive varieties lack quality and attractiveness while as a rule the quality berries are not good commercial varieties and it is often difficult to procure the plants of the better varieties in the nursery.
As it is practically impossible to obtain all of the points outlined above in one variety, it is generally best to plant at least three, not alone to insure a longer season but variety in the fruit is very essential; also some years one variety alone does not do well while with a number of varieties some are sure to succeed. This will be found especially true when late spring frost may entirely ruin one variety and not injure another.
Vigorous-growing varieties with good clean-growing foliage should be chosen. Such varieties are generally to be relied upon. In choosing varieties one should secure those which do well in one's vicinity, for in some cases quality in a variety depends to a large degree on environment.
It is always best to plant at least three varieties so that a long season will be assured. While it is impossible not to have varieties overlap, an abundance at one time during the season is no detriment, for at this time preserving may be done and there are so many ways in which strawberries can be used that an abundance should be sought.
The strawberry is bisexual in its bloom and therefore it will be necessary either to choose varieties which have perfect flowers or have those of both sexes in order to insure perfect pollination. Sex in strawberries does not seem to have any direct bearing on quality or productiveness, although there is a common fallacy that pistillate varieties are most productive and staminate varieties of the better quality.
In the matted-row system of planting, the plants are set 4 by 2 feet apart, and allowed to run so that a row from 2 to 3 feet wide is formed. This is probably the easiest way in which to grow the strawberry. There is great danger, however, that too many plants will be allowed to grow in this system and, in consequence, through overcrowding, the fruit will be small and rather poor. In this system plants should not be allowed to set closer than 6 inches apart and all runners which are made beyond those necessary to cover the ground when at this distance should be removed.
In the hedge- or narrow matted-row system, set plants 3 by 2 feet apart, and allow each to make four or six new plants, which are set so that there are practically three separate rows with the plants in the row about 8 to 10 inches apart. All other plants and runners are removed.
In the hill system, the plants are set in various ways, first in straight rows, 3 feet apart, and the plants in the row from 12 to 20 inches apart, or plants are set in beds 14 by 14 inches or 18 by 18 inches or even 20 by 20 inches apart, and from three to four rows are set, depending on the variety. In this system all of the runners are removed from the parent plant and the bed is generally allowed to remain for about three years.
To obtain strawberries earlier they may be raised in frames as other perennials are grown. The plants are set in August or September about a foot apart in rich garden loam and given good cultivation. The frames should not be more than 8 inches deep. Hill culture is practised in this system and plants are protected during the winter by a light mulch. Glass frames are put on early in March, careful cultivation given, plenty of air and careful watering. This method will advance the crop two to three weeks ahead of the outdoor crop. Such varieties as are suitable for greenhouse culture should be used for growing in frames.
Growing strawberries in a barrel, or rather on a barrel, is practised by those who have very limited space, and while there are many drawbacks to doing this successfully it can be accomplished with care. A clean cider barrel should be used and several 1-inch holes bored in the center of the bottom and a ring of 1 1/2-inch holes about 8 inches apart around the barrel with a space of 8 inches between the rows of holes. If the holes are started near the bottom, it will be possible to get three rows of holes and about eight holes around the barrel. Good strong pot-grown plants should be secured and a good compost of garden loam. Place in the barrel and over the holes cut in the center of the bottom a piece of 6-inch drain-tile about a foot long, filling the center of the tile with coarse gravel or small stones. Put the roots of the plants into the 1 1/2-inch holes in the sides of the barrel and fill the barrel with the compost, adding pieces of tile to that in the center as the barrel is filled so that the drain-pipe comes up to the top of the barrel. A row of plants may be planted on the top of the barrel so that sides and top are covered. Watering should be done through the drain-pipe and if the coarse material used inside the drain is satisfactory, the plants will take up about the proper amount of water before it all passes through the barrel. The barrel should be carefully protected in winter by covering with straw and pine branches and the top protected so that excessive rain will not get in; elevating the barrel on stones will help the drainage.
Having decided upon the method or system of growing strawberries, the season for planting should be the next consideration. As a rule the early spring, from April 1 to May 10, is the best time to plant in the North, although in many gardens which have to economize space, August and September planting is made necessary, as the strawberry has to follow some of the other early crops, as peas, beans, lettuce, and the like. For August or September setting, pot-grown plants are better than the runner plants unless one can take runner plants directly from one's own bed and transplant them under favorable weather conditions.
To obtain the best pot-grown plants, the runners of the current season's growth should be used, as these make better plants than those of last season's growth which have been placed in cold storage and potted after their natural season of planting has gone by. If layer plants are used in spring, great care should be taken in planting so that the plants may be assured of a good start. Remove practically all of the foliage and cut back the roots at least one-half. If the ground has been prepared carefully the hand may be used in making the hole for the roots, but in stony ground it is best to use a trowel. Be sure that the crown of the plant is not set either too deep or too far above ground. The crown should be on a level with the surface of the soil. When setting, spread the roots out fan-shape and be sure to press the soil firmly about them. Be sure that the rows are straight. Various devices are used on commercial farms but for garden culture nothing is better than a line for securing straight rows.
Whether set in spring or fall, cultivation of the soil should begin as soon as the plants are set and kept up until late September, when cultivation should cease and the plants given a chance to harden up for the winter. Cultivation, whether done by wheel-hoe, hand- hoe, or weeder, should be shallow, never more than 2 inches deep, as the strawberry roots are near the surface and light cultivation of the surface soil does as much good as any other form. Weeds of all kinds should be kept down and comparatively little weeding will be necessary provided the ground is kept stirred.
During the summer at least three applications of fertilizer should be made, preferably before or during a rain. If the fertilizer mentioned previously cannot be obtained, bone-meal will give good results, particularly if wood-ashes are added.
If the season is particularly dry or the land is inclined to dry put rapidly, artificial watering may be practised, but it is better not to use water if it can be avoided. Plenty of cultivation will grow good plants on nearly all soils.
In the late fall after heavy frosts have come and the ground freezes slightly at night, it will be necessary to put some winter protection on the strawberry-bed. Many kinds of materials may be used, but first it is best to have a light mulch of well-rotted stable-manure scattered among the plants and worked under the foliage. Following this the winter protection may be put on. This should be of coarse hay, cornstalks, or very strawy manure, care being taken not to put on too much. A good rule to follow in placing a covering is that it must not be too close to prevent seeing some of the foliage of the strawberry plants under the mulch. The mulch may be held in place by brush, light cordwood or even soil, and in places where there is little snow great care must be taken to keep the mulch in place. It must be borne in mind that this careful protection is not to prevent the ground from freezing but rather to prevent the alternate freezing and thawing of unprotected ground in winter. In the spring as soon as danger from extreme frosts is past, the material for holding the mulch in place should be removed and also a part of the mulch itself, leaving some of the covering on the land to serve as protection to the fruit in the fruiting-season and to keep the soil moist. Some persons prefer to remove all the mulch and to cultivate the ground, and in some cases this is desirable; but, when the plants have had good culture the previous year it is just as well not to do much cultivating in the spring. Fertilizers should be added at this time, preferably bone-meal and wood-ashes mixed at the rate of one-half pound of ashes to one pound of bone-meal and put on about one-eighth pound to the square foot.
If the weather is dry and the soil more or less inclined to dry out, water may be added at this time and up to the time the fruit is well set, being careful not to water during the daytime when the sun is shining. The question of watering strawberries is a very difficult one as so many conditions enter into the discussion. Some soils are naturally moist, and when water is added artificially to these, the tendency is for the plants to go to foliage or soft fruit or decayed berries. Too much water on a dry soil, particularly if added as the berries are coloring, is likely to injure the quality of the fruit while increasing the size, so that quality often is sacrificed to bulk. Generally speaking, in most seasons, if the land has been well cultivated the season before and the bed has been well mulched, there will be enough moisture in the land to carry the crop to maturity.
As quality in the strawberry depends very much upon ripeness and condition, it is well not to begin to pick too soon, but wait until the fruit has colored all over and has taken on the characteristic depth of tint which may be common to the variety. Be sure to pick the fruit early in the morning before the sun gets hot, keeping what berries are not used early in the day on ice. Pick the fruit with a stem; and for household use berries are much more attractive when picked in a shallow basket with some kind of foliage.
Within the past few years a new race of strawberries has been developed commonly called everbearing from their habit of producing fruit after the regular strawberry season has passed. This strain has now been permanently established and it is a great source of satisfaction to strawberry-lovers to have fruit after the regular season is over. There are several varieties of these everbearing strawberries, and every garden should have a few of them. They may be planted in any of the ways suggested for the regular varieties but they should have plenty of water during the summer to insure the full development of the fruit. In most locations in the northern states these varieties begin to ripen early in August and continue until heavy frosts. It is advisable to cut off the blossoms in May if a large crop is wanted in August, but they will fruit at both times after a short rest in July. Many of these varieties have a tendency to make too many plants and it is well to follow the same general directions as given for growing the standard varieties. Most of these everbearing varieties do very well in the usual hill culture.
Forcing of strawberries.
The forcing of strawberries for a winter crop has not as yet become of any great commercial importance in North America. Some gardeners grow a few potted plants for either Christmas or Easter decoration. Very few, if any, commercial growers are forcing strawberries exclusively to any profitable extent. The few strawberries that are forced are grown either in pots or planted out on benches. The former method is the one generally employed. There are several good reasons for this, some of which are: first, the confinement of the roots; second, the ability to ripen the crowns in the fall; third, the control of fertilizers and liquid manure: fourth, the privilege of having the crop grown in several houses at one time or brought from a coolhouse into heat; and fifth, the opportunity to supply particular demand of the potted plants or their fruits. The first expense of the pot method is considerably more than when the plants are grown in the benches, but after the pots are once purchased the cost of each method should be about the same.
The pot method as practised at Cornell University is about as follows: As early in the spring as possible large plants are set in well-enriched soil. The first strong runners made by these plants are secured and potted. Numerous 2- or 3-inch pots filled with good soil are plunged to the rim along the strawberry row. The runners are trained to these pots, and a small stone is placed on each runner to keep it from growing beyond the pot. When the pot is filled with roots the young plant is cut from the parent stock, the pots lifted and taken to the potting-shed or other convenient place, where they are at once shifted into the fruiting-pots (usually a 6-inch pot). The soil used at this time should be three parts fibrous loam and one of good sharp sand. This potting-soil should have mixed with it bone-flour or dissolved rock at the rate of about one pint to two bushels of soil. Ample drainage should be given, as through the season of ripening the crowns and the following forcing-period, a large quantity of water must be given and none should be allowed to stand around the roots.
The pots should then be plunged to near the rim in some coarse material, preferably coal-ashes, which, if deep enough to extend from 4 to 6 inches below the plunged pots, will prevent the earthworms from entering the pots. The use of a frame in which to plunge the pots is recommended for protection against heavy rains or early frosts. Attention to watering is all that will be necessary through the growing season. Late in September or early in October the pots will be filled with roots and the plants will have attained their full growth. At this time larger and firmer crowns will be had by careful attention to watering and subsequent drying off to almost the wilting stage than by watering the plants up to the time of freezing weather. The drying process seems to represent the late fall season and causes the plant to store up material in the crowns at an earlier period. At the coming of cold weather the soil in the pots may be allowed to freeze. It is very desirable that the soil be on the dry side before freezing, for if the ball of earth is wet there is danger of breaking the pots when the cold becomes intense. The period of forcing, from the time the frozen plants are brought in until the ripening of the fruits, will be about eight weeks. The time will vary slightly under different conditions of heat and sunlight. When first brought in, the plants should be cleaned of all dead or diseased leaves. The pots should be plunged to near the rim in some material that will retain moisture, e. g., tanbark or coal-ashes. The benches or shelves should be as near the glass as convenient. A thorough spraying with bordeaux mixture or some other fungicide should be made at once. For the first few days the house should be held at about 35°, with little if any rise through the day. After a week a rise of 10° may be given. At the end of the second week 50° at night, with a rise of 10° to 15° through the day, will be about right.
Strict attention must be given to syringing the foliage every pleasant day. Keep the walks wet until the time of blossoming. This moisture keeps down the red-spider. At blossoming time the house should be allowed to dry out, and a free circulation of air should be maintained, through the middle of the day, in order to ripen the pollen. It is necessary to pollinate each flower by hand. The pollination may be done in the middle of the day while the houses are dry. A small camel-hair brush is useful for distributing the pollen. A ladle or spoon should also be provided in order to carry the surplus pollen. The surplus pollen may be used on varieties that are pistillate or do not have pollen enough to set their own fruits. Six to eight fruits are enough for a 6-inch pot. When these are set the remaining flowers should be cut off, in order that the entire strength of the plant may go to swelling the chosen fruits. After swelling begins, liquid manure should be given. During the first week give one dilute application. After this give two applications a week, increasing the strength of the manure liquid each time. Well-rotted cow-manure or sheep-droppings furnish good material for this purpose. When the fruits are coloring the liquid manure should be withheld and only clear water given. As they swell, the fruits will need support, and the best method of furnishing this is probably by using small-meshed window-screen wire cut into suitable squares. These squares may be laid on the pot, under the clusters of fruits. They hold the fruits away from the sides of the pots, protect them from any water or liquid manure that is given the plants, and enhance the beauty of the potted plant. After one fruiting, the plants are worthless.
|Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture|
Fragaria (Latin, fragrance, from the smell of the fruit). Rosaceae. Strawberry. Low perennial creeping herbs grown for the excellent fruit, and one or two species for ornament.
Plant stemless, with scaly rootstock or crown, and rooting runners: lvs. palmately 3-foliolate and toothed, all from the crown: fls. white or reddish, in corymbose racemes on slender, leafless scapes, sometimes lacking stamens; calyx deeply 5-lobed and reinforced by 5 sepal-like bracts; petals 5, obovate, elliptic or orbicular; stamens many, short; pistils many, on a conical receptacle, becoming small and hard achenes and persisting on the enlarging receptacle, which becomes pulpy and edible.—The fragarias are exceedingly variable. Of the true fragarias, about 4 species-types are interesting to the horticulturist as the parents of the garden strawberries:—F. chiloensis, the probable original of the ordinary cultivated strawberries of Amer.; F. virginiana, which was early domesticated, and of which some trace still remains in cult, varieties; F. moschata, the Hautbois, and F. vesca, the alpine and perpetual strawberries, which are little cult, in this country.
- Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture, by L. H. Bailey, MacMillan Co., 1963
- LA Times: When and how to buy strawberries
- LA Times: A world of extraordinary flavors in specialty and exotic strawberries
- w:Strawberry. Some of the material on this page may be from Wikipedia, under the Creative Commons license.
- Strawberry QR Code (Size 50, 100, 200, 500)
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