STATE OF FLORIDA
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
NATHAN MAYO, Commissioner
Claude L. DeVane and John M. Scott
Preparercd and P'ulished in Co-oiperation with the College of
Agriculture. Unli\'vrsitv of Florida. Gainesville.
1rrrr I iLr lsLE ~ FC
AIf& A i AIX i1kMR1%I^^t /Ik1V
Bulletin No. 1:3
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Nathan Mayo, Commissioner of Agriculture ....
T. J. Brooks, Director, Bureau of Immigration
Phil. S. Taylor, Advertising Editor.........................
John M. Scott, Agricultural Editor.......
By CLAUDE L. DeVANE AND JOHN M. SCOTT
Prepared and published in co-operation with the College of Agriculture,
University of Florida, Gainesville.
T HE strawberry. a luscious red fruit, grown on a trailing
vine, is one of the most popular members of the Rose
family. The domain over which it reigns in America,
where it is more extensively cultivated than any other small
fruit, stretches from Mexico to Alaska, from New England to
the Pacific Coast. It is at home in every province of (anada,
in Europe, in South America. Wherever it grows it is a favorite
on account of its delicious flavor delicate aromnl, and rich
Wild strawberries, though sweet and of delicious flavor, are
very small. They grow by the roadsides and in meadows
throughout the United States.
The cultivation of strawberries in each section differs accord-
ing to soil, climate, and other natural elements that enter into
the life or cultivation of the crop. Many men who have knowl-
edge and experience in raising strawberries in other sections
of the country find, on coming to Florida. that they have to
practically learn a new system of cultivation. This bulletin
is written for Florida conditions witl the object of aiding new-
comers to Florida and others who are beiiiners in the industry
of raising strawberries in the State.
The raising of strawberries is an important industry in many
localities throughout Florida. In some localities a large number
of the people depend mainly upon their income from straw-
berries for a livelihood. The acreage grown by individual
farmers varies from one acre up to fifteen or twenty acres,
although from two to five acres is perhaps the size most fre-
quently found. In order to secure further returns from the
land, vegetables are frequienlly planted along or between the
rows as a companion crop to the strawberries. Peppers,
tomatoes, and corn are commonly used.
The United States Department of Agriculture credited
Florida with a total of 3.640 acres of strawberries in 1928
(See Table I). An average of from 1.500 to 2.000 quarts per
acre is the estimated yield, although some of tle muist success-
ful growers have been able to get a yield of 2,500 or more quarts
4 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
At the present time not more than one-half the counties in
the State grow strawberries commercially. The counties that
grow the largest acreage in order of importance are as follows:
The above counties grow anywhere from 50 to 2,500 acres per
county. In addition there are a considerable number of counties
that grow anywhere from 1 to 10 acres each.
The fact that strawberries are not grown on a commercial
scale in some of the counties is no sign that they cannot be grown
there successfully, as strawberries may be grown successfully
in every county in Florida either for home use or on a com-
SELECTION OF LAND
One of the most important steps in strawberry culture, and
one upon which success or failure depends, is the selection of
land. Scranton fine sand is the best type of soil for strawberries.
Any good loamy soil, however, that is well filled with humus
and which retains moisture well is satisfactory.
The Scranton fine sand consists of a dark gray to black fine
sand, eight to fifteen inches deep, underlaid by a yellowish gray
fine sand which extends to a depth of more than thirty-six
inches, the color becoming yellower in the lower part. Varia-
tions from the typical color occur in both soil and subsoil. A
sufficient amount of organic matter is ordinarily present in the
soil to give it a slightly loamy feel, and in places the subsoil is
decidedly loamy. Tile land is level lo gently sloping and the
natural drainage is generally good, only the lowest parts of the
type ever being covered by standing water. Such soil is fairly
retentive of moisture and is saturated at relatively shallow
depths owing to the presence of more or less impervious sub-
On land where the drainage is not very good, it will be neces-
sary to bed up the land so as to provide thorough drainage at
all times. An example of land bedded so as to provide drainage
is given in Figure 1.
FLORIDA STRAWBERRIES 5
Fig. 1. Strawberries planted one row to the bed. Note how ground is bedded
up to insure drainage.
Fig. 2. Strawberries one row to the bed. Note that the land is not bedded up
much, as it is naturally well drained.
PREPARATION OF SOIL
The preparation of land for the planting of strawberries
should be very thorough. The soil should he abundantly sup-
plied with hIumus before the plants are set. either by making
heavy applications of manure or by growing and turning under
a heavy crop of cowpeas, velvet beans, crotalaria, or some other
good soil improving crop. It is necessary that the soil improv-
ing crop be turned under at least three to four weeks before
Ilhe plants are to be set.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
After the land has been broke, broadcast and thoroughly
disked and worked into a good condition, the beds are laid off
three feet apart for single row planting and four and one-half
or five feet for double row planting. The beds are usually ten
to fifteen inches high, depending on local conditions, such as
drainage, etc. As soon as the land is bedded up in rows and
the beds smoothed off with a hoe or rake, the land is then ready
for the plants to be set. A time should be selected for setting
the plants when there is sufficient moisture in the soil to insure
the growth of the plants, otherwise they must be watered.
Fig. 3. Ground bedded up to Insure good drainage. Planted two rows to the
bed, the most common practice In Florida.
SYSTEMS OF PLANTING
There are several methods of setting strawberries. One often
used in some states is the matted row system in which the
runners are not removed from the nursery but allowed to grow
in a matted row. This system, however, is never used in Florida.
The single row system, as shown in Figure 1, is often used
in Florida. The beds are laid off three feet apart and the plants
set 12 inches apart in the row.
The double row system, illustrated by Figure 3, is the most
popular system of planting. Here the beds are laid off 41/ or
5 feet apart, with two rows 14 or 16 inches apart to the bed, and
the plants 14 inches apart in the row.
FLORIDA STRAWBERRIES 7
,e ,***'. 3S,
Fig. 4. Strawberries planted two rows to the bed. This Is the most popular
method of planting in Florida. Note beds are not very high, as
natural drainage is good.
The three row system is shown in Figure 5. In this system
the beds are made about six feet apart with three rows to the
bed. The rows are placed about 14 or 16 inches apart, and the
plants 14 inches apart in the row.
The solid set system is where the plants are set on flat ground
9x12 or 12x12 inches. Every sixth row is left unplanted for
convenience in working and harvesting.
The last two systems arc rarely used in Florida, as the single
and double row systems seem to be generally preferred.
NUMBER OF PLANTS REQUIRED TO SET AN ACRE
Distance Apart Plants Per Acre
2 feet by 1 foot ................... 21,780
2 feet by 11/2 feet ..... .. ......... 14,520
3 feet by 1 foot ........... ....... 14,520
31/ feet by 1 foot ......... .. ..... 12,446
2% feet by 11/ feet ......... ..... 11,616
3 feet by 2 feet ........ ...... . 7,260
Solid Planting .................... 35,000
A crop of strawberries will remove considerable plant food
from the soil; so it is advisable to supply organic matter in the
form of manure or leguminous cover crops. The land selected
for strawberries should be sowed to a cover crop of cowpeas,
8 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Fig. 5. Strawberries planted three rows to the bed. This method Is not used
a great deal in Florida. Note how the ground is bedded up.
velvet beans, crotalaria, or beggarweed to be turned under at
least three weeks before the plants are to be set.
The first application of commercial fertilizer is scattered along
on top of the beds and worked into the soil a week or ten days
before the plants are set. Some growers use about 500 or 600
pounds per acre at this application, putting on another applica-
tion of 500 or 600 pounds after the plants have become well
established, and the last application of 500 or 600 pounds of
fertilizer just before the bloom appears. An application of
1,500 to 1,800 pounds of fertilizer per acre is generally used
during the season, while some use as m.ich as a ton to the acre.
The first and second application of fertilizer should be higher
in ammonia than the last, preferably 4 or 5%, with about 8%
available phosphoric acid, and 4 or 5% potash. The last applica-
tion should contain 3 or 4% ammonia, 8% available phosphoric
acid, and 6% potash. Some growers use about 1,000 to 1,200
pounds of fertilizer in two applications and the remainder a
more highly concentrated fertilizer as a side dressing. Great
care must be used if this is done to prevent burning the roots
and injuring the plant.
Strawberries require a slightly acid soil. Lime and unleashed
ashes should not be used, as they are injurious to the roots of
FLORIDA STRAWBERRIES 9
There are a large number of strawberry varieties that can
be grown in Florida. Some years ago the Klondike was quite
a popular variety. During the past few years, however, a
large percentage of the growers in Florida have discarded nearly
all varieties except the Missionary. The M2issionary variety
has at least three outstanding qualities that make it popular
with the growers. It is an early fruiter; the fruit is of fine
quality; the fruit is of a firm texture and therefore ships well.
When strawberries are grown for the local market and home
consumption, the Klondike and Brandywine varieties are very
satisfactory, but these two varieties do not stand shipping as
well as the Missionary.
THE NURSERY AND ITS CARE
The Florida strawberry grower generally gets about a thou-
sand plants from northern nurseries for each acre he expects
to plant to strawberries. By planting this number of plants
in a nursery early in the year, enough plants should be produced
for the farmer to set his land in the fall. Some farmers find
it profitable to grow plants for market, and sometimes it is
possible to pay the expense of a strawberry crop with the plants
sold from the nursery.
The plants secured from the northern nurseries should be
set during February or March on well prepared new land. New
land is recommended because it is more likely to be free from
weed and grass seeds common in cultivated fields, thus reducing
the necessity for hoeing and cultivating.
Where single rows are used in the nursery, the beds should
be four feet apart with the plants set fourteen inches apart in the
row. For double row setting, the beds should be five and one-
half or six feet apart, with the plant rows 18 or 20 inches apart
and the plants set 14 inches in the row.
Before the plants are set, the ground should be worked into
a good seedbed and about 500 pounds of fertilizer worked in.
The common fertilizer formula used in the nursery is 4-8-5-
that is, 4% ammonia, 8% available phosphoric acid, and 5%
With proper care, the nursery plants should grow off and
produce an abundance of good quality plants for June or July
10 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
PLANTING FOR BERRY PRODUCTION
There is a difference of opinion as to which is the best time
to set out the main crop. Some prefer the earlier setting while
others prefer the late setting. There are advantages to each
season. The early plantings, which are in June or July, make
a more vigorous growth and usually during these months there
is plenty of moisture for setting. The later plantings, generally
made in September or October, produce earlier berries and
eliminate the working of the crop through the rainy season.
When the strawberry grower has started a nursery in Febru-
ary or March, it is necessary to set the plants in the field in
June or July. If not transplanted at about this time, the plants
become black rooted, and such plants will not grow off well
when transplanted. If allowed to remain in the nursery until
September, the plants should be loosened with a potato fork or
some other implement a short time before they are to be trans-
planted in order to induce a new root growth. As soon as the
new root growth has started well, the plants can then be trans-
planted to the field.
When it is desired to make both early and late plantings, good
quality plants may be secured from the June or July planting
for the later planting.
In many cases the strawberry grower does not have his own
nursery, but prefers to buy his plants. Purchases may be made
from northern nurseries, or from Florida growers who have
a surplus. Care should be taken, however, to see that only
strong, healthy, vigorous plants are bought.
A time should be selected for setting the plants when there is
sufficient moisture in the soil to insure the growth of the plants,
otherwise they mist be watered.
Table No. I shows the states that produce the early straw-
berry crop each year as well as the acreage, production, and
price per quart in each state from 1924 to 1928 inclusive.
Louisiana is the greatest producer of early berries, while Florida
is second. The price received for Florida strawberries is gen-
erally equal to or higher than that received by other states, as
the Florida crop is usually the earliest to reach the markets.
TABLE NO, I, STRAWBERRIES, EARLY COMMERCIAL CROP: ACREAGE, PRODUCTION, AND PRICE PER
QUART, BY STATES, 192419
Acreage Prodlction Price Per Quart'
1924 1925 28 | 1 1 125 19 2 1928 192 lnw1925 16 119271 0
krcs krl : 11,000 1,000[ 1,000 1,000! 1,0001
Acres Acres Acres| Aes cres nQuars Qrts QuiarlQtartsQuartsQuarts
Ahn 1.,96o 3,() i3,620 ,528 5 5P54 4500 50,19 29 86$,1o/$0,12 I0,18 /o15to16
Al am a ................ ,4O ,60 45 I 5, ,i
Louisina .............. 1W, 4o 4 10,34 1100 23,200 17,885, 10,340 24,975 16,711 083 0,27 0.3 0 029 0.2 3
Mississippi ............ 1 1 ,16( 1 20 600 1W 0 128 1,27 1,10i 6 1,00 018 019 27 0,201 018
Teas ..................... 1 ,0i 0 201l0 1,200 ,850 S 1284 1,0781 1056 520 2,8130 0. 18 021 0.221 020
'From ('rps and tiarkets, ilceiii t r, 1 8 ) 2, p1, .5,
:verogp for season.
ala fr Ib I from l) eai rook of Agriculture, 1927, p, 859,
12 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
SETTING THE PLANTS
The handling of the plants when being removed from the
nursery to the field should be carefully done. A hoe fork is
used to loosen the roots. The plants are then lifted by hand,
the runners pinched off, and placed in bundles. The roots should
be kept moist and away from the sun, for if they are exposed
to the sun for any length of time they will die. The best system
is to have one crew of men taking up the plants and another
crew setting the plants so that the plants are kept out of the
ground the shortest time possible.
A normal healthy plant has a heavy system of white roots
and a large crown with a short husky top. Only the healthy,
well developed plants should be used.
Before the plants are set the beds should be rolled or dragged,
thus making the soil firm so that the moisture will reach the
surface. The rows are then marked off and the plants set by
hand. In setting the plants a small trowel or dibble is used so
that the roots are placed straight and the soil pressed firm around
the roots. Care should be taken to avoid setting the plants too
deep, since the plants usually die if the bud becomes covered
The cultivation of strawberries should be frequent and
thorough. This is necessary to keep down weeds, conserve
moisture, and keep the land in good physical condition until
the mulch is applied. The mulch is usually applied in Novem-
ber or December in central and south Florida, and in January
or February in the northern part of the State. One-horse culti-
vators and hoes are used until the mulch is applied, after which
only hoes are used for cultivation. All cultivation of berries
must be shallow, as deep cultivation with either the hoe or plow
will injure the roots-and injury to the roots retards the growth
of the plants and lessens the production of berries.
The amount of cultivation required for an acre of strawberries
will depend entirely on local conditions. Some soils require
more cultivation than others to keep them in a good physical
condition. Then, too, some fields contain more weed seed than
other fields and consequently require more hoeing and culti-
vating to keep the weeds down.
In the northern part of Florida wire grass is often cut and
scattered broadcast over the fields, covering the ground and
berry plants. Pine straw is also raked up and used. After
FLORIDA STRAWBERRIES 13
the straw has settled somewhat, the plants are pulled through
the covering so that the ground is entirely covered around the
plants. This protects the berries from the soil and conserves
In the central and southern parts of the State a straw or pine
needle mulch is put between the rows to be used as a protection
for the berries and bloom in case of a frost, the straw being
pulled up over the plants and removed as soon as danger from
the cold is over. The mulch also serves to keep down weeds and
hold the moisture.
Some farmers use troughs for protection from cold. These
troughs are made from IxS or lx10 inch boards with the edges
nailed together so as to make "V"-shaped troughs. These are
made in any length convenient to handle. Whenever there is
danger of frost, these troughs arc placed over the rows of
strawberries at night. and removed in a day or two or as soon as
danger of frost is past. The troughls are generally left in the,
middles between tile rows for collvellillce ill handlilng.
Fig. 6. Mulched with pine straw.
When good strong plants are set, they will begin to bloom in
from 50 to 60 days after setting, and when conditions are favor-
able ripe fruit may be produced in from 60 to 70 days. The
harvesting period usually begins about Thanksgiving an(d ends
the first of April in central and south Florida. while north
Florida begins to ship in January and February and continues
Strawberry fruit, when ripe, is very perishable and therefore
requires special care in harvesting. packing. and shipping to
14" DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
market. The berries should be picked by taking hold of the
stem and pinching it off, leaving from 1,/. to 1/2 inch of stem
attached to the fruit. Each berry is then carefully placed in a
basket-not dropped or thrown in. The baskets of fruit should
never be left long in the field exposed to the wind and sun. The
best practice is to pick the berries early in the morning when it
Very soon after picking, the berries should be taken to the
packing shed where they are washed, using only good clean
water, and then placed on burlap covered tables to drain. Here
all small, inferior, and cull berries should be removed before
packing. The fruit is now ready to be packed for shipment.
Packing is done altogether by hand in quart baskets, the top
layers being laid evenly to give an attractive appearance to
the basket. These quart baskets are then packed in shipping
crates, 32 quarts to the crate.
Fig. 7. Picking strawberries In Florida. Note corn as companion crop.
Courtesy Extension Service, U. S. D. A.
Strawberries may be satisfactorily shipped to nearby markets
in the 32-quart crates without further packing, as these crates
are made from material that is strong, yet light in weight, and
will stand shipping by express. It is seldom advisable, however,
to ship fruit packed in this manner farther than 500 miles.
When berries are to be shipped to distant markets, they are
removed from the crates and placed in pony refrigerators. "The
refrigerators are constructed to hold 32, 64, and 80 quarts,
respectively.' The 80-quart size is used most generally, as it
holds more ice and will carry longer distances than the smaller
'Florida Extension Bulletin No. 40, Strawberry Production in Florida.
FLORIDA STRAWBERRIES 15
Fig. 8. Strawberries being packed in crates. Courtesy Extension Service,
U. S. D. A.
ig. 9. Packing strawberries for shipment. The smaller crates are the
Regular 32-quart crates for shipping short distances. The larger crates
are the pony refrigerators used in shipping to distant markets.
Courtesy Tampa Chamber of Commerce.
16 DEPARTMENT (F AGRI('ILTURE
ones. The smaller sizes are used for shorter hauls. The walls
are made from two layers of lumber with building paper be-
tween. The corners are reinforced. It is a strong box capable
of carrying a weight of 500 pounds or more. Each refrigerator
is equipped with an ice chamber, which is a galvanized box 4
inches wide placed in a vertical position in the center of the
refrigerator. The berries are packed carefully around this ice
chamber up to the height of the center ice chamber. When
the berries are filled to the top of the center partition, an ice
pan about 6 inches deep is placed on top of the entire pack. This
and the center partition are filled with broken ice. The box is
then covered with a heavy top which is made strong and is
bolted down carefully. It is then ready to be shipped.
"The refrigerators are equipped with a drain pipe for letting
out melted ice. No icing of these refrigerators is necessary after
the original icing, as they are capable of carrying the berries
over a five or six day shipment. Under average weather con-
ditions, the berries should come out of the refrigerator in good
shape, even after a week's transportation.
Fig. 10. Quart baskets ready to pack for shipment. Courtesy Florida Agri-
cultural Extension Division.
"The refrigerators also serve to protect the fruit against the
freezing weather of northern states, which they often are sent
into. They cost about $15 each and, if properly taken care of,
should last several years."
DISEASES AND INSECTS
For information on diseases and insects of strawberries, one
should write to the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station,
Gainesville, Fla., and the United States Department of Agricul-
ture. Washington, D. C.