Title: Strawberry production in Florida
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00026368/00001
 Material Information
Title: Strawberry production in Florida
Alternate Title: Bulletin 40 ; Florida Agricultural Extension Service
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Jenkins, E. W.
Kelley, R. T.
Publisher: Agricultural Extension Division, University of Florida
Publication Date: June, 1924
Copyright Date: 1924
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00026368
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aab7766 - LTQF
amt6453 - LTUF
47285806 - OCLC
002570146 - AlephBibNum

Full Text


The publications in this collection do
not reflect current scientific knowledge
or recommendations. These texts
represent the historic publishing
record of the Institute for Food and
Agricultural Sciences and should be
used only to trace the historic work of
the Institute and its staff. Current IFAS
research may be found on the
Electronic Data Information Source

site maintained by the Florida
Cooperative Extension Service.

Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
of Florida


Bulletin 40 p June, 1924

(Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914)





Fig. 1.-Strong, fruitful strawberry plants.

Bulletins will be sent free upon application to the Agricultural Extension
Division, Gainesville, Florida.

P. K. YONGE, Chairman, Pensacola
W. L. WEAVER, Perry
JOHN C. COOPER, JR., Jacksonville
A. H. BLENDING, Leesburg
J. T. DIAMOND, Secretary, Tallahassee


A. A. MURPHREE, A.M., LL.D., President of the University
WILMON NEWELL, D.Sc., Director
A. P. SPENCER, M.S., Vice-Director and County Agent Leader


E. W. JENKINS, B.Ped., District Agent
H. G. CLAYTON, M.S.A., District Agent
S. W. HIATT, District Agent
R. W. BLACKLOCK, A.B., Boys' Club Agent
JOHN M. SCOTT, B.S., Animal Industrialist
HAMLIN L. BROWN, M.S., Dairy Specialist
E. F. DEBUSK, B.S., Citrus Pathologist
J. R. SPRINGER, B. S. A., Entomologist and Pathologist
H. B. LANSDEN, Poultryman


VIRGINIA P. MOORE, L.I., Assistant State Agent
RUBY MCDAVID, District Agent
ISABELLE S. THURSBY, B.S., Food and Marketing Agent

Strawberries are grown in every county of Florida. The
commercial acreage is produced principally in Bradford, Orange,
Osceola, Hillsborough, Manatee, Hardee and Dade Counties.
Small acreages for local consumption are found in many other
Strawberry production could be enlarged at a profit in many
localities thruout the state. During seasons favorable for pro-
duction local markets are well supplied with Florida berries,
while during unfavorable seasons the supply is much smaller
than the demand and the prices then are unusually good. With
an extension of out-of-state markets and better distribution it
will be easily possible to increase the acreage, profitably, and
extend the picking season by at least one or two months.
Strawberry growing has been fairly profitable. The labor in-
volved in handling the crop has been an important factor in
preventing greater production. The Florida crop is harvested
during the winter months and is placed on the market when
strawberries are scarce. Consequently, they command a much
higher price than is received for berries grown during the
warmer seasons.
The soils generally used for strawberry culture are the better
grades of sandy flatwoods land where the subsoil is clay, marl
or a compact sand. The darker lands are usually selected be-
cause of their greater fertility and capacity to retain moisture.
Such soils also respond quickly to fertilizer, producing a
growth condition. Eighty percent or more of the strawberries
of Florida are produced on such soils.
The drier types of sandy pine lands produce good crops of
strawberries, if irrigated. But unless some water supply is
available, it is difficult to get a good stand of plants during the
fall months and sufficient moisture during the ripening periods.
These lands have some advantage over the flat lands, as to free-
dom from frost injury, being higher and having better air
drainage. In a few places, in the southern part of the state,
well-drained marl flats are producing excellent crops of straw-
In any event, strawberry soil must be compact, have a good

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supply of humus, be well-drained, yet have the advantage of a
constant supply of moisture, and be provided with liberal
amounts of organic fertilizer. These conditions produce strong
vigorous plants that have a tendency to bloom heavily and set
heavy crops of fruit.
Strawberries can be produced on the stiffer clay soils also,
as well as on muck lands, but the production for market pur-
poses on these lands has not been as satisfactory as on the sand-
ier soils.

It is seldom that the first crop from new land is satisfactory.
A soil to be productive must be in good physical condition, must
be deep and must have a good supply of decomposed vegetation.
Suitable soil that has been in use for other crops can be ex-
pected to produce strong vigorous plants, if properly fertil-
ized and cultivated.
It is customary for strawberry growers to plant a leguminous
crop early in June and turn this into the soil about thirty days
before setting the plants. Plenty of time should be allowed for
the cover crop to rot before setting the plants, as partly decom-
posed vegetation will keep the soil open and make it too dry
for a good stand of plants to live and grow. Where stable man-
ure is available it pays to apply it liberally, using from 5 to 10
tons to the acre. With most soils the more vegetation
that can be incorporated, the better the prospects are for pro-
ducing good yields. Such a condition would have a tendency
to carry the crop over a drought season and cause plants to
put out a strong root system, making them capable of utilizing
liberal amounts of fertilizer. It is important that the soil be
placed in the best possible condition before the plants are set,
so there will be no probability of the plants' being stunted or
held back from the time they are set until the bearing season
is past.
In preparing the land for setting the plants (after it has been
plowed), the disk cultivator and smoothing harrow should be
used to firm the soil. The land should be prepared two or three
weeks before time to set the plant. This is because dry weather
so often accompanies the setting period. Plants set in a freshly
made bed are more liable to die from lack of moisture than

Strawberry Production in Florida

where the beds have been made long enough to become compact
and hold moisture.
When the beds are made it is a good plan to run some kind of
drag over them to smooth and make firm. This keeps the
moisture from evaporating, and plants live better when set
in a firm bed.
Strawberries are set from June until November. The larg-
est plantings are set during September and October, depending
on the moisture, kind of soil and weather conditions. The time
for planting must be determined by the soil moisture, for if the
plants are set in dry land during the early fall months many

Fig. 2.-The single-row system. Note the pinestraw mulching between
the strawberry rows.

are likely to die. Frequently planting is delayed from 15 to 30
days while waiting for rain. Plants should grow off quickly
so as to make a strong root system. A stunted, weak plant sel-
dom produces a good yield of berries.
The time of planting does not always determine the fruiting
period. Plants set in October often fruit as early as those set
in August; so there is nothing to be gained by planting too
early, as far as supplying the early markets is concerned. How-
ever, planting should be early enough to get a fair start before
the coldest weather of the year. That is, the plants need a warm

Florida Cooperative Extension

and growth condition in order to make a good sized, produc-
tive plant.
Strawberries usually produce best when the plants are set on
a bed. This is true largely because the buds of the plants not set
on beds may become covered with soil, which accordingly retards
the growth of the plants. However, the height of the bed will
depend on the amount of drainage in the field. If drainage is
good, the sets may be planted on the level, provided cultivation
is done by hand and care is taken not to cover the buds.
Single-Row System.-By this system the plants are set from
12 to 14 inches apart in single rows from 36 to 42 inches apart.

Fig. 3.-The double-row system often permits of horse-drawn cultivation.

If late in the season, the plants may be placed a little closer.
These single rows may be either on very low or high beds, de-
pending on the drainage. It requires about 15,000 plants to set
an acre according to these dimensions.
Double-Row System.-Many growers use the double-row sys-
tem, that is, they plant two rows on a bed. The beds are usu-

Strawberry Production in Florida

ally about 4 feet wide and the two rows are set 14 inches apart;
the plants are set alternately in the rows. This system requires
about 20,000 plants to the acre. It is also possible to set three
or four rows to the bed, and in some cases even more. Three
rows, however, is preferable to a larger number on account of
the difficulty in picking and working among the plants when
the beds are too wide; the work must be done by hand and usu-
ally it is not advisable to tramp the soil between the rows.
Where the drainage is good and where a large acreage is to be
handled the single-row system provides opportunity to work
the crop with horse-drawn cultivators, thereby eliminating much
hand work. However, this is less intensive than planting on
the beds.
Plants are also set in checks, 9 by 12 inches, with every sixth
row left vacant, leaving a 24-inch passage for workmen in fer-
tilizing and gathering the crop. This is the most intensive way
of planting. It requires more hand labor and is advisable when
the crop is near a large consuming center and is produced early
enough to sell for special fancy price. This system requires
about 35,000 plants to the acre.

When the plants are taken from the plant bed the roots
should be kept moist; it is usually best to set them as quickly as
possible. A well-developed strawberry plant has a thickly matted
system of fibrous roots; but, if it is dried by being exposed to
the air even for a few hours, a number of plants after being set
in the rows will die.
As strawberries are set during the late summer and early
fall, it is usually at a time when the soil may be quite dry and
the weather warm; and the roots of a strawberry plant grow
near the surface and cannot be set deeply. Therefore, much
depends on carefully setting the plants during this season.
Strawberry plants are always set by hand. Machine planting
has never been satisfactory, due to loose soil and the danger
of covering up the buds with earth.
The plants should be set at about the same depth they grew
in the plant bed, so that the buds can be easily kept from being
covered by cultivation or by heavy rains. Therefore, too deep
setting is always to be avoided. Care should be taken that the
soil is packed firmly around the roots and that the roots come

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in contact with the moist soil, in order that the plants will start
growing as soon as reset.
In setting plants a heavy trowel is convenient, especially if
the ground is firm. It is seldom advisable to lay off the fur-
rows with a small plow, drop the plants and attempt to cover
with anything except the hand.

The commercial strawberry crop of Florida is produced al-
most entirely from the Klondyke and Missionary varieties, the
latter being favored by most growers. These varieties begin
to bloom in from 40 to 60 days after setting and, if weather is
favorable, may produce ripe fruit in from 50 to 60 days. These
varieties are also good producers. They
bear a large berry that stands up well
under long shipments. The Klondyke
is perhaps the better shipper but the
Missionary has been considered a bet-
ter yielder.
On the heavier types of soil and
where the berries are to be consumed
locally the Brandywine is grown suc-
S cessfully. On this kind of soil, and with
proper fertilization, the yields are heavy.
One grower has reported a yield of 250
bushels to the acre. In this case the
plants were set in checks 9 by 12 inches,
Were handled under the most intensive
cultural methods and were fertilized
Fig. 4.-Bundle of straw- heavily, which resulted in a very heavy
berry plants drawn for
setting. Note the long, yield and an attractive and satisfactory
fibrous roots, fruit.
The average yield of strawberries varies from 1,500 to 3,000
quarts to the acre from January 1 to April 15. Larger yields
of from 6,000 to 8,000 quarts have been produced on small
acreages under various intensive methods of cultivation and
with most favorable weather conditions.

It is advisable for berry growers to grow their own plants.
Unless this is done the supply of good plants is always uncertain.

Strawberry Production in Florida

Plant beds for strawberries are prepared in the usual way;
that is, by selecting a well-drained but fertile plot, and by pro-
viding for ample drainage and proper culture.
Most berry growers set new plants each year, securing new
plants from northern nurseries in February and March. One
should order about 1,000 plants for each acre to be set. These
begin to make runners by April, which in turn should be taken
up and set in the field during June. These June-set plants will
make more runner plants with which the farmer continues his
setting, and then the original June-set plants grow on and make
berries the same as the runner plants which were taken from

Fig. 5.-Growing strawberry plants. Note that every other middle is
cultivated, while the plants grow freely in the alternate middles.

Another method practiced is to run the old berry plants over
to the second year. These are kept cultivated and allowed to
grow plants. When time comes for setting, these new plants
are taken up and set and the old plants make another crop of
berries. These plants are set in practically the same way as
those planted to produce berries, except that usually the rows
are a little wider, giving ample room for cultivation and for
runners to extend. In this way it is practical to grow from 50
to 150 sets from a single plant.
Plant beds should be carefully fertilized and well cultivated,

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especially during a dry season, to maintain good moisture sup-
ply and, during wet weather, to keep out weeds. With care and
if the season is favorable, the ground should be covered soon
with a thick mat of large, well-rooted plants that can be trans-
planted to the field with little injury. Strong and well-rooted
plants are not difficult to transplant under average conditions.
But undersized, poorly rooted plants are difficult to handle,
particularly if after being set out the weather remains warm
and dry. As it requires from 12,000 to 35,000 plants to set an
acre, the importance of having a liberal supply of plants, re-
gardless of conditions, is emphasized.
When removing plants from the bed to the field it is neces-
sary to take every precaution that they do not become dried
out. If a large area is to be set there should be two crews at
work, the first to take up and sort the plants and the second to
set them in the field, in order to avoid their drying out.
When the plants are taken from the beds they should be
packed in convenient bundles of from 50 to 100, these bundles
packed closely together and finally conveniently distributed
to the setters in the field. The labor involved in setting the plants
is a considerable item in growing the crop and one should take
the precaution to avoid careless setting. At the same time he
should avoid as much delay as possible, so that the work can
be handled promptly.

Strawberries should be fertilized liberally with a fertilizer
that is available fairly readily. The amount to apply varies
according to the natural fertility of the soil and its physical con-
dition. It also varies according to the number of plants set;
that is, it requires more fertilizer where 20,000 plants are set
to the acre than where 15,000 are set.
It is usually best to supply the fertilizer in two or more ap-
plications. Two are sufficient on the better grades of land
but three are needed on the lighter sandy lands where irriga-
tion is necessary.
When two applications are given, half should be applied ten
days before the plants are set and the other half when they
show the first indications of blooming.

Strawberry Production in Florida

When three applications are made, a third of the fertilizer
should be given ten days before the plants are set, another third
when the plants begin to set for blooming and the final third
about six weeks later.
In scattering the fertilizer before planting, apply it directly
to the row where the plants are to be set and mix it well with
the soil. Later applications necessarily will be made to the
sides of the bed. As strawberry roots are near the surface
and are small, be careful to distribute fertilizing material
evenly and to work it in very shallowly so as not to break the
roots of the plants. Cultivation in all cases should be with
light-working tools, so that the roots of the plants will not be
broken or turned up to be burned by the fertilizer.

Fig. 6.-Quart crates of strawberries. It takes good land, good .fertil-
izer and good farming to produce berries like these.

The analysis of fertilizers for strawberries should vary with
the different periods of growth. When the plants are young,
formula reading approximately 5 percent ammonia, 8 per-
cent phosphoric acid and 4 percent potash is suitable (this is for
the first application). Fertilizer applied when the plants begin
to bloom should read approximately 4 percent ammonia, 8
percent phosphoric acid and 9 percent potash. The general
practice is to increase the potash when the plants begin to bear.
Formulas.-Where it is desirable to use a homemade mix-
ture the following may be used:

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Formula No. 1: Ammonia......................---------------- 5 percent
Phosphoric acid ............--- .........----..-- 8 percent
Potash ......----------------------.- 4 percent
Made from-Sulphate of ammonia-........ (25%)- 160 pounds
Tankage ---..-- ..............-------(10%)- 300 pounds
Nitrate of soda ..--------...(18%)- 168 pounds
Acid phosphate ......---------(16%)- 930 pounds
Sulphate of potash ..---------(48%)- 167 pounds
Total ingredients ....-----.................-- -------------...1725 pounds

This mixture would be equivalent in plant food to 2,000 pounds
of fertilizer analyzing 5-8-4, as given above.
Formula No. 2: Ammonia ................------ ..........-------...... 4 percent
Phosphoric acid ................-----..---- 8 percent
Potash .......---------------- 9 percent
Made from-Tankage ..-....----------.... (6/2%)- 616 pounds
Sulphate of ammonia ............(25%)- 160 pounds
Acid phosphate .--......------(16%)- 750 pounds
Sulphate of potash ..........(48%)- 376 pounds
Total ingredients -----...... --.........-.------------1902 pounds

This mixture would be equivalent in plant food to 2,000 pounds
of fertilizer analyzing 4-8-9, as given above.
Formula No. 3: Ammonia ...--...............-------------.... 4 percent
Phosphoric acid ....................----- 8 percent
Potash .-----........ ---------------- 9 percent
Made from-Nitrate of Soda ----..-.... ---.(18%)- 100 pounds
Tankage ..---..---..-------(10%)- 370 pounds
Sulphate of ammonia ....-....(25%)- 100 pounds
Acid phosphate .....----- -....(16%)- 930 pounds
Sulphate of potash --........ (48%)- 376 pounds
Total ingredients .....................-----..---------1876 pounds
This mixture would be equivalent in plant food to 2,000 pounds
of fertilizer analyzing 4-8-9, as given above.

It is recommended that about a ton of fertilizer be used to
the acre. In case one decides to apply a ton, using the above
formulas, it would be necessary to add a filler to make up the
difference between the weight of these materials and 2,000
pounds. To illustrate, should one desire to apply 2,000 pounds,
using formula No. 3, it would be necessary to mix in with the
fertilizer ingredients 124 pounds of inert material. This prac-
tice, however, is recommended only when the fertilizer mix-
ture is very heavy and, on account of its lack of bulk, is diffi-
cult to distribute evenly. In that case the filler could be made
up with light soil or well-decomposed muck, -which would make
it easier to distribute.

Strawberry Production in Florida

When making up mixtures mix the materials together a week
or ten days in advance of the time of application. If they are
to be mixed for a longer period, store in a dry place as there is
a possibility that the mixed goods will become lumpy, making it
difficult to spread them evenly.
Market gardeners often apply as much as 3,000 pounds of com-
mercial fertilizer to the acre, often using as high as 6 percent
of ammonia and 12 percent of potash. This is recommended
where the plants are set close together-from 20,000 to 35,000
plants to the acre. While this is more fertilizer than the plants
will actually take up, yet it is important to keep a liberal supply
of available plant food around the plants during their bearing
period, so as to stimulate fruiting and cause very heavy yields.
Such applications are usually made on small plots where the
methods of culture are intensive and the work is done by hand
tools. Amounts as large as this, unless carefully applied, may
cause some injury to the plants by burning.
Top-Dressings.-In addition to the three regular applications
of fertilizer already mentioned, it is sometimes advisable to ap-
ply 100 pounds of nitrate of soda to each acre as a top-dressing
just at the time when the crop is beginning to wane, which usu-
ally is in February or March, depending on the location.
Some growers also find it advisable to apply from 80 to 100
pounds of sulphate of potash about January 1, if they expect
to top-dress with nitrate of soda. The purpose of this addi-
tional application of an ammoniate is to prolong the bearing
period. However, any quick-acting ammonia fertilizer should
be used sparingly and with caution, as it tends to produce soft
berries or may cause shedding of the bloom. The purpose of
the additional 100 pounds of top-dressing material, applied in
midseason, is to help keep the berries firm until late in the sea-
The practice of applying the top-dressings of ammonia and
potash must be varied according to the needs of the plants. If
the plants are bearing but few berries but show a vigorous
growth of dark green leaves, it is not advisable to use the ad-
ditional nitrate of soda or sulphate of potash. On the other
hand, if the plants are bearing heavily and show a lack of am-
monia (indicated by spindling plants and pale leaves), usually
it is advisable to top-dress.
Stable Manure.-On average sandy land it is usually advis-

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able to apply some stable manure, if it can be secured at a cost
not exceeding from $5 to $8 a ton. Low-grade stable manure,
that is, from stables where sawdust is used, has little value
and in many cases is hardly worth applying. In fact, if it con-
tains a large amount of sawdust it is detrimental rather than
beneficial. The manure should be worked into the soil when
the land is plowed, before the first application of commercial
fertilizer. The elements of plant food in this fertilizer are rel-
atively small, but it places the soil in good physical condition
and adds bacteria, which aids in getting the best results from
commercial fertilizers.


Cultivation should at all times be very shallow, care always
being taken not to break or disturb the roots of the plants. Dur-
ing the first few weeks
of the plants' growth
cultivation may be done
with sweep or cultiva-
tor. Later, as the plants
send their roots out, cul-
tivation necessarily will
have to be done by hand.
As a matter of fact,
most cultivation is by
hand after the plants
begin to grow.

Fig. 7.-Sixty-four quarts of Florida
rts awberries on the way to mak y


the children of sixty-four American The purpose of mulch-
families, ing is to keep the ber-
ries and plants clean of sand and soil, especially after hard
rains. It also serves to protect the plants against frost and
keep down the weeds. As the berries grow close to the ground
and the surface soil is loose, they become soiled and injured un-
less protected. Mulching material should not be put on until
after the last fertilization and cultivation, which usually is just
before the fruiting season. As soon as winter is over the straw
is taken out of the field to allow better cultivation, which is
done at this time mostly by hand. For mulching, either pine
straw or dried grass is satisfactory. In putting it on it should

Strawberry Production in Florida

be scattered lightly over the ground, then worked around the
plants by hand.
Mulching has some disadvantages. When the soil is compact
and is not apt to get on the berries after heavy rains, some
growers prefer to do without it. It keeps the ground colder
during midwinter and thereby delays the first picking. It fur-
ther protects such insects as mole crickets, and where these are
troublesome mulching should be delayed just as much as pos-

Strawberries are picked in the field into quart baskets. These
are taken into the small packing sheds, usually in the field,
where the berries are washed, sorted and carefully repacked by

Fig. 8.-Pony refrigerator for shipping strawberries to distant markets.
Note partition chamber in center of box filled with crushed ice.

hand into quart baskets, the top layers being laid evenly to give
an attractive pack. These quart baskets are then put into 32-
quart shipping crates and are ready for shipping or for sale.
When the berries are to be shipped to nearby markets no fur-
ther packing is needed. The crates are light and strong enough
to withstand express handling, after the top is carefully nailed
on. Berries can be shipped in these crates for a distance of

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500 miles under average weather conditions, especially if to
be consumed without delay.
When berries are to be shipped to distant markets, they are
repacked at the railway platform market into 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
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
conditions the berries should come out of the refrigerator in
good shape, even after a week's transportation.
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.


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