By Angela Baird
June-bearing strawberries produce the largest fruit and give the highest yield of the three strawberry types. They are a smart choice for the home strawberry grower. In order to increase your yield and get the most out of your plants, proper care and cultivation is important.
Plant correctly. Whether planting in mats or hills, plants need to be spaced 12 to 24 inches apart. If planting rows, have 18 to 20 inches between rows, but only 6 to 8 inches between plants in the same row. Do not plant the roots horizontally, but into deep vertical holes. Do not bury but half the crown.
Allow a year of plant growth. June-bearing strawberries need a full growing season to establish strong roots and crowns before a decent harvest can be expected. Pinch off all blooms in the first growing season, and keep runners pinched back as well.
Renovate strawberries after harvest, or at the end of the growing season, to ensure heavier yields the following season. Set your mower blade at maximum height and cut the plants off without harming the crowns. Till a foot-wide swathe between rows to control weeds, as well as using an approved herbicide if desired. Apply a balanced fertilizer at the rate of 2 1/2 lbs. per 100 square feet. Finally, mulch well with straw.
Water weekly with 1 inch of water during dry spells to encourage growth.
Protect plants from frost. Remove mulch early in the spring, but keep it in the rows so that plants may be quickly mulched again when overnight frosts are forecast. Protecting young blooms from late frosts will greatly increase your strawberry yield.
Use approved insecticides or careful hand-picking if you see any evidence of chewed leaves or fruits.
June-bearing strawberries, when properly cultivated, may last for up to three years.
To keep your strawberry harvest going, bed a new round of plants in the spring of your first crop’s first harvest. Pinch back runners and blooms while the new plants establish themselves. Setting new plants each spring ensures you have a continual strawberry supply.
Do not plant strawberries where tomatoes, potatoes or other strawberries have been cultivated in the last two years.