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Strawberry Chores – Fall 2019

Compiled by Mark Hoffmann and Barclay Poling, NC State University


Grower’s Checklist

OCTOBER 2019

Planting

  • Check plants for possible biological (insects and diseases) and physiological (nutrient) disorders prior to planting and treat appropriately or do not plant if Anthracnose is detected. Consult your extension agent if plants appear unhealthy. Get diagnosis if disease is suspected. Notify plant seller of any problems. If you have planted ‘Albion’ for a fall/spring production system, check for mites very early!
  • In Fall/Extended season production systems, have a picking crew ready.
  • Set plants carefully – planting depth is extremely important to getting off to a good start. Set plug plants deep enough to have approximately 3/8” of soil covering the top of the media plug. Set fresh dugs at the depth at which they were growing in the nursery or mid-way on the crown.
  • If you establish plugs with drip irrigation only, be sure to hook up the system before planting. This year was really dry, so make sure your beds are moist. Drip irrigate often enough after transplanting to keep beds near field capacity during the first four weeks. Avoid having standing water. Using a water wheel transplanter is recommended if no overhead irrigation is available.
  • Irrigate fresh dug plants 9 am–5 pm for 7–12 days. (More may be needed if weather is hot and sunny.) Growers typically reduce irrigation times on the “tails” of the day during the latter part of fresh dug establishment (later am start times and earlier pm stop times). Let the plants tell you when they are becoming established and adjust irrigation schedules based on plant response.

Post-Planting Maintenance

  • If deer predation has been a historic site problem, install fencing NOW. A double row of electrified fence (tape or wire type) has been effective when installed early in the season. Consider attaching foil, paper plates or grocery store plastic bags at regular intervals to increase the visibility of the fence.
  • Drip irrigate in the fall as needed to keep soil from drying out.
  • Scout for pest injury, including deer.
  • Check for dead plants and reset ASAP. Send suspicious-looking plants to the Disease & Insect Clinic for positive ID; notify plant seller of any problems.
  • Place order for row covers NOW; these will help greatly to conserve irrigation water during frost protection next spring and…
  • If planting is delayed a week or more, fall row covers can help enhance plant growth and partially compensate for late planting for both ‘Chandler’ and ‘Camarosa’.
  • A row cover applied in the first 2 weeks of November may enhance flower bud development in the crowns and improve spring yields – this may be especially helpful for later plantings of Chandler. Row cover research in the Mountains, Piedmont and Coastal Plain has shown that Camarosa yields are optimized with 800 Growing Degree Day units in the fall (Oct-Dec), and Chandler needs about 650 GDD units.
  • Growers should consult seasonal climate data and predicted long range forecasts before they install row covers. Growers can look for guidance from the Climate Prediction Center’s 6-10 and 8-14 day outlooks here: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/610day/interactive/index.php. Please make sure you subscribe to the NC State Strawberry Portal (https://strawberries.ces.ncsu.edu/) for frequent weather updates during winter and spring.
  • If unseasonably warm temperatures during row cover treatment were followed by unseasonably cold temperatures, plants may not acclimate and tissues could have a reduced cold tolerance.
  • Consider removing dead leaves from plants in Nov-Dec to minimize grey mold.

NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2019

  • Inspect plants late fall and winter for crown development. You should see two to three crowns.
  • Plants should adapt to cold temperature in November and early December (‘cold-hardy).
  • Protect plants and plastic from deer.
  • Order chemicals for spring.
  • Hand weed winter weeds. Check for vetch in holes and weed out. The winter temperatures will not kill them.
  • Examine plants for spider mite damage; they can be mistaken for winter damage. Control as needed.
  • Place row covers in NC mountains in December, leave on until spring.
  • Remove row covers this month if used for fall flower enhancement or late planting in the NC piedmont and coastal plain.
  • Remove dead leaves from strawberry plants. They can harbor gray mold and removal should lessen the disease in the fruiting season.