Front Cover
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Fruit production
 Nursery production
 Back Cover

Group Title: Bulletin - University of Florida. Agricultural Experiment Stations ; No. 841
Title: Strawberry production in Florida
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00027202/00001
 Material Information
Title: Strawberry production in Florida
Series Title: Bulletin Agricultural Experiment Stations, University of Florida
Physical Description: 26 p. : ill. ; 23 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Albregts, E. E
Howard, C. M
Publisher: Agricultural Experiment Stations, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville Fla
Publication Date: 1984
Subject: Strawberries -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Strawberries -- Marketing -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Bibliography: Bibliography: p. 23-26.
Statement of Responsibility: E.E. Albregts and C.M. Howard.
General Note: "August 1984."
Funding: Bulletin (University of Florida. Agricultural Experiment Station)
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00027202
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 000575082
oclc - 14354766
notis - ADA2478

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover
    Title Page
        Title Page
    Table of Contents
        Table of Contents
        Page 1
    Fruit production
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
    Nursery production
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
    Back Cover
        Back Cover
Full Text


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Strawberry Production
in Florida

E. E. Albregts and C. M. Howard

E. E. Albregts is a Professor of Soil Science and C. M. Howard is a Professor of Plant
Pathology, Vegetable Crops Department, Agricultural Research and Education Center,
Dover, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida.

Introduction ........... .........

Planting site selection ................... ............. 1
B ed size ..... .......................................... 2
Fertilization ........................................... 3
Land preparation and fumigation ......................... 8
Plant sources and quality ................................ 9
Planting date ............................ .......... -
Plant spacing ......................................... 11
Planting depth ...................................... .11
Establishing plants ...................................... 12
Daughter plant removal ................................. 14
W eed control .......................................... 15
Irrigation ................................... .......... 15
Cold protection ........................................ 16
Harvesting and marketing ..............................
Controlling diseases, insects, mites, and nematodes .......... 18
Straw berry cultivars ............................ . 18
Selecting the soil site ................... ........... 19
Land preparation ............................. ...... 19
B ed preparation .................................... 19
Plant spacing ................. ........................... 20
Planting date .......................................... 20
Plant sources and quality ............................. .21
Fertilization ........................................ 21
Planting depth and establishing plants ................... 22
W eed control ...................................... 22
Irrigation ............ ............................. 22

Commercial production of strawherriesbegan in Flurida abi ut 1878
in the Starke and Lawtey area. The fruit were shipped in open crates
Sby rail to the northeastern United State~s (2:lj. Production began in
the Plant City area about 1896 and in southeastern Florida about
1 ':,,i (22). The largest state acreage was in 1933 when about 11,000
acres were grown. Production decreased to a low of about 1200 acres
in 1975 and then increased to about 5,400 acres in 1983. Although
strawberries are grown throughout Florida, about 90 to 95% of the
production is located in west central Flo rida. St ia berriess are grown
in Florida with the annualhill culture system. Transplants are set
during October into well fertilized beds which have been fumigated
for nematode and disease control and mulched with black
polyethylene. Fruit harvest begins in December and peaks in March
or early April. Harvest in local areas may continue until late May.
Strawberry fruitare-mainly produced for the fresh market and are
shipped all over.the world, but the largest volume is shipped to the
eastern half of the United States. Fruit are also sold through road-
side stands, but, near the end of the harvest season, most fruit are
sold for processing or to consumers through U-pick operations.
Plants for the fruiting field are produced out-of-state as well as
in Florida. The introduction of California cultivars into Florida in
recent years has made local nursery production more difficult. Many
of the California cultivars are susceptible to a serious disease (30)
anthracnose (Colletotrichum fragariae), which can kill large
numbers of plants in the nursery and carry over the problem into
the fruiting field. Growing these cultivars in an area with a cooler
and drier climate helps to control the disease in the nursery (18).

Planting site selections*
Soil Type: Most mineral soils are suitable for growing strawber-
ries. Fine-textured soils or those with spodic horizons (an im-
permeable soil layer) can be used if good surface drainage is provid-
ed. Strawberries are not generally grown on organic soils. All soils,
especially the excessively well-drained soils, should have organic
matter content in excess of 2% to enhance soil tilth and promote
water and fertilizer retention. A vigorous cover crop grown during
each off-season can maintain or even slightly increase the soil organic

Commercial production of strawherriesbegan in Flurida abi ut 1878
in the Starke and Lawtey area. The fruit were shipped in open crates
Sby rail to the northeastern United State~s (2:lj. Production began in
the Plant City area about 1896 and in southeastern Florida about
1 ':,,i (22). The largest state acreage was in 1933 when about 11,000
acres were grown. Production decreased to a low of about 1200 acres
in 1975 and then increased to about 5,400 acres in 1983. Although
strawberries are grown throughout Florida, about 90 to 95% of the
production is located in west central Flo rida. St ia berriess are grown
in Florida with the annualhill culture system. Transplants are set
during October into well fertilized beds which have been fumigated
for nematode and disease control and mulched with black
polyethylene. Fruit harvest begins in December and peaks in March
or early April. Harvest in local areas may continue until late May.
Strawberry fruitare-mainly produced for the fresh market and are
shipped all over.the world, but the largest volume is shipped to the
eastern half of the United States. Fruit are also sold through road-
side stands, but, near the end of the harvest season, most fruit are
sold for processing or to consumers through U-pick operations.
Plants for the fruiting field are produced out-of-state as well as
in Florida. The introduction of California cultivars into Florida in
recent years has made local nursery production more difficult. Many
of the California cultivars are susceptible to a serious disease (30)
anthracnose (Colletotrichum fragariae), which can kill large
numbers of plants in the nursery and carry over the problem into
the fruiting field. Growing these cultivars in an area with a cooler
and drier climate helps to control the disease in the nursery (18).

Planting site selections*
Soil Type: Most mineral soils are suitable for growing strawber-
ries. Fine-textured soils or those with spodic horizons (an im-
permeable soil layer) can be used if good surface drainage is provid-
ed. Strawberries are not generally grown on organic soils. All soils,
especially the excessively well-drained soils, should have organic
matter content in excess of 2% to enhance soil tilth and promote
water and fertilizer retention. A vigorous cover crop grown during
each off-season can maintain or even slightly increase the soil organic

matter content. As the organic matter content decreases to low levels
in the top one foot of well drained sandy soils, the irrigation re-
quirements increase and fertilizer management becomes more critical
for the production of optimum yields. On clay soils or soils with
higher water tables organic matter content may not be as important.
Drainage: So as to not contaminate the fumigated soil, surface
water should not flow into the growing area. Nematodes, weed seed,
and disease organisms may move with the water and re-infest the
field (20). Drainage, especially surface drainage during the growing
season, should be fairly rapid so that plant roots are not damaged
by flooding which may occur either after heavy rains or after periods
of heavy water application, such as for freeze protection.
Weed Problems: Fields where perennial weeds, such as nutgrass,
are a problem should be avoided (27). Attempting to control weeds
after planting the crop is difficult and can greatly increase produc-
tion costs.
Irrigation Water: The water supply may become a limiting
resource as urbanization and population density increases. Regula-
tions may limit water use, especially from wells. Irrigation from pits
or the re-cycling of drainage water into pits will probably become
more common. Irrigation water quality is also important. The water
should be relatively low in soluble salts (below 500 to 1000 ppm) (53)
and contain no chemicals such as boron at toxic concentrations. If
the water pH is near 7 or above, the soil pH will increase, which
may require foliar application of some micronutrients (41). Sufficient
water pumping capacity needs to be available for freeze protection
to prevent flower, fruit, or plant damage (36).

Bed Size
Since strawberries are shallow rooted, most of the roots are within
the volume of the formed bed (22), and most of the moisture and
nutrient uptake will occur within this volume. The height of the plant
bed should be sufficient to permit maximum rooting and to prevent
damage to roots during flooding. A bed height of 7 to 9 inches as
measured from bottom of row middle is sufficient under most con-
ditions (9). The firmness of the bed can vary greatly depending on
equipment used to form the beds. The firmer beds appear to retain
moisture longer, but data are not presently available on the effects
of bed firmness on plant growth or yield. The width of the bed
generally relates to the number of plant rows per bed. As the number
of rows per bed increases, the fruit yield may increase, but the
harvesting of fruit may become more difficult (8). Pesticide coverage
of the more dense plant foliage may also become more difficult which

V.-4 7


Figure 1. Bed width affects number of rows per bed, plants per acre, pro-
duction costs, spray coverage, fruit rot, ease of harvest, and fruit

may increase fruit rot. The problems become more important as plant
size and density increase and as the length of the fruit stalk
decreases (3,5,8). In addition, special equipment is needed for wider
beds. Because wider beds cover a greater area, more plants, fer-
tilizer, polyethylene mulch, fumigant, and pesticides are also re-
quired. Once the bed width is selected and equipment purchased
to fit this bed then the opportunity to change may be limited because
of equipment costs (44,46). The potential for increased profits is
greater with beds having more than 2 rows because of greater fruit
yields (10). However, higher production costs and increased fruit
losses because of rots may more than compensate for the greater
potential fruit yields (8,10).
Rates: About once every 2 years the soil should be tested for
phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and magnesium and the pH deter-
mined. Test your soil early so lime can be applied if needed. Several
months should elapse between lime (or dolomite) application and
bed preparation to allow time for the lime to react with the soil (21).
Because of micronutrient availability the pH should be kept between
5.5 and 6.5 (30). Apply phosphorus at the rates recommended by

soil tests. Some 'old' soils have a high phosphorus content and may
require only low rates of additional phosphorus. The nitrogen and
potassium fertilizer recommendations are made with the knowledge
that leaching of these nutrients may be a problem. It is possible to
apply rates double those recommended and yet incur a deficiency
because of improper fertilizer placement and source and/or excessive
irrigation or rainfall and flooding. A soil with a low to medium
potassium test level and with most of the fertilizer applied broad-
cast (mixed in the bed) should receive about 180 to 200 lbs per acre
of potassium (all rates of potassium are as pounds per acre of KO).
With a high soil potassium test level and broadcast placement, 135
to 150 lbs per acre of additional potassium is sufficient. If most of
the fertilizer is applied in a band between rows at a depth of 1 to
2 inches, then these rates can be reduced by one-third. Nitrogen
should be applied at 175 to 200 lbs per acre depending on the natural
fertility of the soil. About one-half of the nitrogen should come from
a slow release source, such as sulfur coated urea, IBDU, or a resin
coated material (9). The release rate of the nitrogen source must
match or exceed the needs of the crop. Consult the Extension agent
in your area for recommendations. These nitrogen and potassium
fertilizer rates are for 2-row beds. For beds with more than two rows,
apply to each additional row the same rate applied per-row with the
2-row beds. Going from a 2-row to a 4-row bed does not double the
fertilizer rate. Instead the rate per acre increases by one and one-
third because the number of plants and rows per acre generally in-
creases by one and one-third. If 200 lbs of potassium per acre are
applied with a 2-row bed system then 267 lbs of potassium per acre
would be applied with a 4-row bed system. Remember, that with
banding lower rates can be used for potassium. Excessive rates of
fertilization, especially with nitrogen may cause excessive plant
growth, greater daughter plant production, and increase the pro-
blem of albinism. The latter is a condition in which the fruit are nor-
mal in size but fail to color properly, are tender in the areas of poor
color development, and spoil rapidly after harvest (52).

Micronutrients should be applied to new soils as needed. Leaf
analysis during the growing season is the most effective method to
determine micronutrient requirements. Table 1 gives the minimum
leaf concentrations for various elements. Leaf concentrations should
be at or above these levels. If the leaf concentration of an element
is below the level indicated in Table 1, foliage application may be
required during that season for optimum yields. Soil applications can
be made before the next season to alleviate the deficiency. Applica-
tion of micronutrients to new land seldom exceeds 25 to 40 lbs per

Table 1. Leaf concentrations needed for optimum yields.

Nutrient Minimum leaf concentration
Boron 25 ppm
Calcium 0.3%
Copper 5 ppm1
Iron 50 ppm
Magnesium 0.18%
Manganese 30 ppm
Molybdenum 0.5 ppm
Nitrogen 2.8%
Phosphorus 0.2%
Potassium 1.1%
Sulfur 1000 ppm
Zinc 20 ppm

'Has been recommended at 10 ppm by one researcher (24).

acre of a micronutrient mix. For most soils, except mucks and
alkaline soils, micronutrients, except boron, need only be applied
once every 3 or 4 years (14). Manganese and iron are the first
micronutrient deficiencies to appear on strawberries in Florida even
though substantial amounts may have been applied to the soil. We
have observed that as the soil pH nears or exceeds 6.5 most
strawberry cultivars on fine sands tend to display a manganese defi-
ciency (13). Foliage rather than soil application may be more ap-
propriate under these circumstances. Since boron may be leached
from sandy soils (28), yearly application of boron to the soil or the
application of boron to the foliage may be required. Do not apply
more than one lb per acre of the element a season to the foliage,
and apply in split applications for best results (41). All micronutrient
applications can easily become toxic to the plant especially when
applied to the foliage. For those who are interested, bulletins with
color photographs of nutrient deficiency symptoms of strawberries
are available (52).

Placement: Fertilizer should be placed in the polyethylene mulch-
ed bed in a manner which minimizes leaching and salt burn and
enhances plant uptake. Table 2 illustrates the effect of overhead
sprinkler irrigation on leaching of soluble salts from polyethylene
mulched beds. Although results varied, the leaching of the fertilizer
salts was quite severe. The organic matter content of the soil was
about 1%. With greater organic matter content and with slow-release
fertilizers, leaching would be less. Leaching was less in the center

of bed than under planting holes. Table 3 indicates the effect of
depth of placement of the fertilizer band on leaching of soluble
At the time trial was conducted, overhead sprinkler irrigation was
not used to establish plants and thus the leaching effects were less.
However, levels of soil soluble salts, potassium, and nitrate in the
bed with the one inch placement depth were much higher than at
the 5 inch depth. Placing the fertilizer deeper in the bed results in
it being subject to greater leaching because more water moves
through the lower part of the bed during heavy rains and when ir-
rigation is used for plant establishment and freeze protection. A por-
tion of the fertilizer (about one-fourth of the total amount applied)
should be mixed in the bed. Although fertilizer placed in this man-
ner is subject to rapid leaching (Table 2), it is needed to provide
nutrients to the young transplant for fast early growth. The re-
mainder of the fertilizer should be placed in a band midway between
the plant rows and just deep enough to remain in the moist soil dur-
ing the season (1 to 2 inches deep). As noted, fertilizer placed in this
position is least likely to leach (Table 2, 42), and plant roots will feed
from the band within 2 to 4 weeks after transplanting (unpublished
data). Fertilizer placed under the plant row may cause foliage and
root damage or even the death of the plant whether derived from

Table 2. Effect of overhead sprinkler irrigation on leaching of soluble fer-
tilizer from polyethylene covered plant beds'.

Soluble salt reading2
Center Plant hole
Treatments 0-3" 3-6 0-3" 3-6" Original3
Sand no fert. 70 98 77 112 126
Sand 2000 lbs/A 595 420 77 182 2800
Sand 3000 lbs/A 525 770 98 770 3850
Sand 4000 lbs/A 448 385 98 322 4900
Soil no fert. 224 210 168 182 322
Soil 2000 lbs/A 1680 1470 112 196 2240
Soil 3000 lbs/A 840 490 154 308 3150
Soil 4000 lbs/A 308 280 168 252 6300

'Beds were 2 ft long and wide and 9 inches high in bed center and 8 inches on sides.
Ten inches of irrigation were applied over an 8 day period. Four planting hole slits
4 inches long and 6 inches from sides of bed were made in polyethylene mulch for
each treatment.
2Parts per million soluble salts in saturated extract.
3Fertilized with 10-4-10 derived from NH4NO3, KC1, and triple super phosphate and
mixed thoroughly with soil and sand.

Fertilizer 1to2"
-/ Band

Figure 2. Placement of fertilizer is important to reduce leaching and for
prevention of salt burn to plants. Some broadcast placement of
fertilizer is needed to hasten early growth.

an inorganic or a slow release source. A common grower practice
is to broadcast all of the fertilizer before preparing the plant beds.
If too much fertilizer is mixed in the bed or is inadvertently concen-
trated under the plant row, plant damage from high soluble salts
is very likely. Plant damage from soluble salts usually occurs after
irrigation for plant establishment ceases. The soil in the bed begins
to dry from drainage and from evaporation at the planting slits.
Evaporation at the planting slits causes soil water to move towards
them. This water carries soluble salts with it which can result in high
soluble salt concentrations in the root zone area. This problem has
been observed for many years among growers and occurs only when
all or most of the fertilizer is mixed in the bed. The testing of large
numbers of grower samples at ARC-Dover has shown that when the

Table 3. Effect of placement on leaching of water soluble fertilizer in
polyethylene mulched beds.

Soluble salts (PPM)1 Potassium (PPM)' Nitrate (PPM)1
Depth R2 M2 C2 R M C R M C
Inches 1 inch fertilizer placement3
0-2 1015 3785 10140 95 750 2660 175 260 645
2-4 600 1520 4425 50 215 915 150 145 295
4-6 320 795 1095 20 75 165 55 105 90
5 inch fertilizer placement3
0-2 745 970 1380 15 70 95 35 105 150
2-4 680 495 1085 10 35 115 25 35 80
4-6 870 415 825 15 65 140 20 35 60

'Parts per million of soluble salts, potassium, or nitrate in saturated soil extracts.
2Soil samples were taken in plant row (R), bed center (C) and one-half way between
these points (M) on 2-29-68.
3Fertilizer placed in a narrow band in bed center either 1 or 5 inches below surface.
Fertilizer derived from ammonium nitrate, potassium chloride, and super phosphate.

soluble salt level exceeds 2800 ppm in the root zone of young
strawberry transplants foliar wilting and burn can result. The only
method available to correct the problem is to apply water with
overhead sprinklers until the soluble salts have decreased to non-
toxic levels around the plant roots (below 2800 ppm, but the level
will vary with cultivar and soil). It has been observed that on well
drained sandy soils, especially those with low organic matter con-
tent, this practice may result in excessive leaching of fertilizer so
that a nutrient deficiency occurs later in the season. If drip irriga-
tion is used, all or part of the nitrogen and potassium may be ap-
plied through the drip tube (38). If slow-release fertilizers are used,
all the fertilizer can be applied in the bed in a manner similar to that
used for overhead irrigation (7). Soluble fertilizer forms placed in
the bed and used with drip irrigation may result in leaching of all
fertilizer if placement is not proper (7).

Land Preparation and Fumigation
New fumigants and nematicides are made available on a continu-
ing basis. Consult local specialists or the Florida Nematode Control
Guide' for the fumigant or nematicide most appropriate for your
situation and also for the rates to use.
Soil tillage should begin early to ensure that all plant debris will
be decomposed before fumigation (30). This requires 6 to 8 weeks
and perhaps longer if large woody roots and stems are present.
Decomposition can be enhanced with frequent tillage, moist soil, and
the incorporation of inorganic nitrogen fertilizer (100 to 200 lbs per
acre of ammonium nitrate) into the soil (30). If plant debris is not
completely decomposed, nematodes and disease causing organisms
in the plant debris can survive the fumigation procedure. Frequent
tillage of the moist soil also causes weed seeds to germinate and
nematodes to hatch making them more susceptible to the fumigant.
The soil should be uniformly moist but not wet at fumigation.
Polyethylene mulch should be applied as soon as possible after
fumigation. Only the area covered by mulch needs to be fumigated
in the fruiting field, and all directions on the product label, especially
for application rates, should be followed. Optimum soil temperatures,
chisel spacing and depth, and waiting periods before transplanting
should be obtained from the label or determined before application.
Follow precautions on the label since most fumigants or nematicides
are very toxic to humans as well as to soil pests.

LNematode Control Guide, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University
of Florida, Gainesville.

Plant Sources and Quality

Strawberry plants can be divided into two classes, dormant and
non-dormant, as related to their chilling history in the nursery. Plants
which have not been exposed to temperatures below 45 F are non-
dormant. Plants which have been exposed to temperatures below
45 F will have starch stored in the upper root area. As the number
of hours of chilling (below 45 OF) received by the plant in the nursery
increases so does the root starch content (19). If sufficient starch
is stored then the plants are called dormant. This implies that the
plant has food reserves (starch) which enable it to survive for long
periods in storage at 28 OF. Whenever dormant plants are set, growth
will be vegetative for several months. A few flowers will appear soon
after setting, but no additional flowering will occur for several
months. Plants received in the fall from nurseries in the northern
United States are usually partially dormant. These plants have suf-
ficient food reserves for establishment in the fruiting field without
foliage but not enough for long term storage (19). Vegetative growth
is usually quite adequate and fruiting may be somewhat earlier than
that of local plants. The time of fruiting and the total yield can be
influenced by the amount of chilling that plants have received in
the nursery and in storage and also by weather conditions (11). If
plants are subjected to an excessive amount of chilling in the nursery
or in storage additional fruiting may be delayed and plants may be
too vegetative. Plants from northern areas may have inadequate
chilling in the nursery before harvest which results in only small
amounts of starch in the roots. If these plants are set into the fruiting
field with little or no foliage, the response will be similar to non-
dormant transplants which are defoliated as noted in next paragraph.
Florida-grown plants and usually those grown in the southern
United States have received no chilling in the nursery by the nor-
mal transplanting date in Florida. Thus starch is not stored in their
roots. In addition, placement of bare-rooted plants in cold storage
does not result in storage of starch in roots. These plants should not
be defoliated or stored at or below freezing. Remove plants from the
nursery as soon as possible after digging and moisten thoroughly in
a stream of clean water. Do not recycle this water since this may
result in spread of diseases or nematodes which may be present.
Plant immediately or place in a cooler for temporary storage. If plants
are not removed from the nursery field immediately after digging,
bury the roots in moist nursery soil but for no longer than two hours
(16). Protect plants from desiccation, whether in the nursery after
removal from soil, in storage, or in the fruiting field prior to or after
transplanting. Desiccation or any other procedure which results in

foliage loss to non-dormant plants can result in high plant mortali-
ty, slow plant growth and development, delayed fruiting, and reduc-
ed fruit yields (4,16). The extent of the problem depends on
transplant crown size, amount of foliage retained, and on the treat-
ment the plant receives after transplanting. Plant foliage should be
dry when stored for more than a few days in a cooler (30). However,
store plants no longer than necessary since storage tends to make
plants more difficult to establish (11). If plants are stored for 2 to
4 weeks, establishment is more difficult, vegetative growth in the
fruiting field may be excessive, fruiting will be delayed, and total
fruit yields can be reduced (11). Plants stored for more than 4 weeks
are too vegetative to be set in the fruiting field. Some cultivars may
be more adversely affected by storage than others (11). Consult local
specialists for information on effect of plant storage on individual
cultivars. When plants are stored or shipped, the temperature must
be kept low enough and sufficient air must circulate around con-
tainers so that plants do not go through a 'heat'. Discard plants which
have gone through a 'heat'.
Plants set directly from the nursery into the fruiting field without
wilting are easy to establish but tend to be more vegetative than
plants which have been in storage for a few days (16). Do not set
plants directly from the nursery early in the season (before October
10) since growth can be excessive and fruiting may be delayed,
especially when fall and early winter weather is too warm to pro-
vide sufficient plant chilling. There is an interaction of photoperiod
and temperature in flower initiation (22). The higher the temperature
the shorter the daylength required for flower initiation and vice ver-
sa (22). This effect varies with the cultivar. Remove excess dead and
diseased foliage before transplanting, and inspect plants for
nematodes or diseases. When nematodes are present, especially sting
nematodes, plants should not be harvested within four to five feet
of an infected area (30). If a very light infection of anthracnose is
present (a 2 foot diameter area), harvesting of plants 20 feet away
from the infection has been satisfactory (29). However, if anthrac-
nose is found anywhere in a nursery, there is always risk involved
in setting these plants in the fruiting field. The quality of the
transplant determines to a large extent its fruiting capability
(1,4,11,16,30). Therefore, use transplants of sufficient size (at least
a one-fourth inch crown diameter) which have not been improper-
ly treated prior to transplanting and are anthracnose and nematode
free. To reduce the risk of catastrophic loss from diseases, weather,
unknown plant defects, and etc., growers usually plant more than
one cultivar and obtain plants from more than one source. An addi-
tional benefit is that the harvest cycles of the two or more cultivars
are usually different (15). This will tend to even out the harvest load.

Planting Date
Date of planting is influenced by the cultivar, plant quality, and
past history of the plant. Except for the day neutral cultivars, plants
should not be set before October 5. Non-dormant transplants with
little foliage and/or small crowns generally develop and grow slow-
ly and give lower fruit yields (1). If these are used, set them early
in the recommended planting period for that cultivar. Generally
those plants set earlier in the recommended planting period grow
larger and produce more runners and fruit than those set later (11).
However, if plants are set too early, especially if fall temperatures
are above normal, plants may become too vegetative and fruit pro-
duction may be severely delayed. If plants are set in the last week
of October or later, plant growth is generally less, fruiting is delayed,
and seasonal yields may be lower (11,37). High soil fertility increases
plant growth, but excessive fertility may result in oversize plants,
greater daughter plant production, and possibly poor fruit quality.
Plant Spacing
Spacing of plants on the mulched beds varies with the vigor of the
plant (10), and the number of rows per bed (8). On a 2-row bed, the
common spacing is 12 inches between rows and between plants down
the row. This spacing normally allows sufficient air circulation
around plants, fairly good penetration of spray material, and enables
fruit harvesting to proceed quite rapidly since fruit are more visi-
ble. With 3 and 4-row beds, the distance between rows varies from
8 to 11 inches. Most growers using more than 2 rows per bed increase
the spacing between plants down the row to compensate for the
decreased spacing between rows. The harvesting of fruit from beds
with more than two rows per bed is more difficult, especially as the
plant density increases (5,8). As plant density increases with any row
number per bed more fruit are missed by the picker and left to rot.
In addition, fruit rot is also increased because fruit under the foliage
stay moist longer during the day and pesticide spray coverage may
be reduced (5,8,10).
Fruit yields can increase with increased plant density, but losses
from fruit rot may lessen the advantage of increased density (10).
Increased plant density also means more pesticide spray may be re-
quired to control diseases, mites, and insects. The number of rows
per bed and the spacing between and down the rows is largely deter-
mined by the grower's management ability, equipment, especially
spray equipment, and the quality of the crew harvesting the fruit.
Planting Depth
The diagram shown in Figure 3 illustrates the proper planting depth
for strawberries. If plants are set too deep, the plants are unthrifty
and the crowns may rot and the plants die (22,25,50). If planted too

Figure 3. Correct planting depth is important for proper rooting and to
avoid plant damage or mortality. A is the proper depth, while
B and C are too deep and too shallow, respectively.

shallow the root system is exposed which can result in poor rooting
and shifting of the plant in breezes or when harvested (22,25,50).
Often plants may be set at the right depth but either be in a small
depression or have soil ridged around the crown. When irrigation
is initiated to establish plants, the depression can fill and bury the
crown or the ridge may erode and expose the roots. A firm plant
bed assists in preventing the bed from settling or eroding.
Establishing Plants
Plants without adequate starch in roots require overhead sprinkler
irrigation to prevent foliage loss and plant mortality. These plants
will require irrigation varying from a few days to 2 weeks after
transplanting (4). Initiate irrigation as soon as plants are set. Each
morning start irrigation when plants show moderate wilt and con-
tinue irrigation until the hot part of the day has passed or until
wilting conditions are no longer present. After a few days, irriga-
tion can be initiated a little later in the morning and can be discon-
tinued earlier in the afternoon. Plants should have 3 or more leaves
remaining at the end of the establishment period. Excessive foliage
loss delays growth and fruiting (4,16). Dormant or partially dormant
plants do not require irrigation to the extent of non-dormant plants.
Irrigation for dormant or partially dormant plants is provided to cool
the crowns and for moisture.
The purpose of the irrigation is to prevent the desiccation of the
plant foliage until the root system can develop and absorb sufficient
moisture to sustain the plant. Only a relatively small volume of water
is required. However, the irrigation system generally used by the
grower is designed to provide large volumes of water. This results
in excessive water use and leaching of fertilizer from the plant beds.
One method to reduce the amount of water applied is with inter-
mittent irrigation. Irrigation is applied for a few minutes and then
stopped for a few minutes. Control of the intervals can be obtained
with time clocks and solenoids or with other devices. The following

is a list of some of the practices required for the successful use of
intermittent irrigation to establish plants. Some items
(1,2,3,4,5,10,11,13) apply for continuous irrigation also.

1. Use plants with short petioles when possible.
2. Set plants as soon as possible after digging from nursery.
3. Do not allow plants to wilt from time of digging from nursery
until irrigation is initiated after transplanting.
4. Use only healthy plants and remove dead leaves.
5. Turn irrigation on as soon as plants are set.
6. Thoroughly moisten transplants and mulch during the time the
irrigation cycle is "on". This usually takes at least 5 minutes
of irrigation.
7. Resume the irrigation "on" cycle by the time plants become
8. Length of "on" cycle varies with climate; (a) hot, windy, and
dry weather results in longer "on" and shorter "off" cycles,
(b) during cool and moist weather little irrigation may be
9. Plants should not be permitted to wilt excessively during the
"off" cycle.
10. Turn irrigation system "on" in the morning when plants begin
to wilt.
11. Discontinue irrigation in the afternoon when it appears that
plants will not wilt excessively for the remainder of the day.
12. If leaves start to become necrotic, difficult to moisten, or cling
to plastic mulch, then either not enough water is being applied
or the "off" cycle is too long.
13. The first few days after plants are set in field are more critical
to establishment than the period after this time.
14. Response to intermittent irrigation varies with the variety us-
ed and the condition of plants within a variety. Plants with long
petioles and those which are wilted, diseased, etc., will require
more irrigation and care.
15. As a guide to the length of the "on" and "off" periods, a 7
minute on with a 8 minute off cycle should be sufficient under
the most arid conditions encountered during the strawberry
planting season. This most arid period is usually in late
September and early October. Poor quality plants may cause
one to shorten the off cycle a minute or so.

16. Less fertilizer was leached with intermittent irrigation than
with continuous irrigation in studies at ARC-Dover (unpublished
data). In one experiment, high rates of fertilizer applied broad-
cast resulted in foliage burn with intermittent but not with con-
tinuous irrigation during establishment. Thus proper fertilizer
placement and low rates of broadcast fertilizer are important
with use of intermittent irrigation.
17. Intermittent irrigation should reduce water consumption for
establishment by one-half.
Daughter Plant Removal
Daughter plant (runner) production in the fruiting field varies
depending on the cultivar, chilling history of the plants, and the plan-
ting date. The more chilling a plant receives prior to setting in the
fruiting field, especially chilling received in storage, and the earlier
the plant is set the greater the runner production (11). A few days
of very cool weather (night temperatures near freezing) in the
fruiting field tends to reduce or eliminate further runner produc-
tion. Runner production is undesirable in the fruiting field because
the excessive plant growth interferes with harvesting and pesticide
application (3,5,8), but more importantly the plant's food reserves
may be used for unwanted vegetative growth and not for fruit pro-
duction. Runners can be removed manually, or, as in other areas

k, to46^'~


. *,



'. -, ,-* A .*" ., tf-. .* *** s

.. % I. .
4i'" g t k
^'"^ i^ f "^ >/! ~

*-Q- '' i4 '' ^ i r

d6*' 94

~E:- i d

Figure 4. Production of daughter plants in the fruiting field is undesirable.

~L *I



of the U.S., by suction type rotary mowers when runner plants are
not rooted (32,49). Sometimes the runner plants are set into places
where the original plant has died. These appear to flower earlier than
a normal re-set and establish without additional irrigation if not
removed from the mother plant for a few days after setting. Of
course, fruiting is delayed and yields are reduced with re-sets (un-
published data).
Weed Control
Weed control can be enhanced by proper choice of fumigant, by
cultivation, and by use of herbicides. The broad spectrum fumigants
provide some weed control while nematicides do not. Weeds are con-
trolled to a large extent in the bed by the black polyethylene mulch;
however, weeds do grow through the plant holes. These weeds are
generally controlled by hand weeding but may also be controlled by
herbicides. Care must be taken with the application of herbicides
to strawberry plants since plants may be injured and growth slow-
ed with their use (12). Weeds in row middles can be controlled with
a combination of cultivation and herbicides. Herbicides must be label-
ed for use on strawberries and applied in a manner that does not
harm the plant or leave excessive residue on the fruit. Remember
that herbicides applied to the row middles may be absorbed by
strawberry roots growing in the row middles or the herbicide may
move laterally under the plant bed with the soil water.
Strawberries are shallow rooted (22) with most of the roots located
in the top 8 to 10 inches of the soil but with some root penetration
to a depth of 24 inches (22). Some root development usually occurs
in the row middles. Since strawberries are grown on a range of soil
types, irrigation frequency and rates are related to the water holding
capacity and drainage characteristics of the soil. In addition, rain-
fall, air temperature, and plant size also influence the amount of
irrigation needed. For sandy well-drained soils, with 1 to 6% organic
matter, the soil moisture content within the bed should be within
a range of 7 to 10%. This is wet enough so that when squeezed into
a ball the soil will retain its shape and feel moist but water droplets
will not form on or drop from the ball. Almost all irrigation for
moisture is by overhead sprinkler. This method is required for plant
establishment and frost protection. If drip irrigation is used for
moisture, water should be applied to the beds daily at or near the
pan evaporation rate for the area covered with mulch (7,43). If one-
half the field is covered with mulch and the pan evaporation rate
is 0.1 inch per day, then 0.1 inch drip irrigation should be applied
to an acre of bed area or two acres of field area. The greatest water

requirement period is in March and April when high air temperatures
increase evaporation and transpiration. Plant beds should be checked
on a daily basis during this period to prevent plants from becoming
desiccated. Various types of equipment are available to assist in
monitoring the soil moisture level. Fruit quality and size deteriorate
if plants do not have sufficient water (7). Excessive water use with
drip irrigation can result in excessive fertilizer leaching (39).

Cold Protection
When plants in the fruiting field begin to flower, protection from
freezes should be available. Overhead sprinkler irrigation is the usual
method for freeze protection. The irrigation water provides heat to
the plant as the temperature of the water drops to 32 OF and especial-
ly as it freezes. As long as the temperature of the flower or fruit
stays above 30 F no damage results. The lower the air temperature
the greater the amount of water needed to maintain the temperature
of the flowers and fruit above the damaging level (36). Open
strawberry flowers are more prone to freeze damage than green fruit
which, in turn, are more sensitive than ripe fruit (unpublished data).
Flowers and fruit are more sensitive to cold damage after several
weeks of warm weather than after several days of cool weather.

-'-" -

"r :- .3
.: -- .. .-. :_'.t

Figure 5. Overhead sprinkler irrigation can protect flowers and fruit from
freezes if proper procedures are followed.

Irrigation need not be turned on until the temperature in the col-
dest area of field, just above the mulch, open to the sky, and not
protected by nearby plants or objects is about 31 0F. Irrigation should
be discontinued as soon as the ice begins to melt on the foliage or
when the wet bulb temperature is above 32 F (36). Spacing of
sprinklers should be such that, without a breeze, the water from each
sprinkler reaches all adjacent sprinklers. If wider spacing is used,
protection may not be adequate under windy or very cold condi-
tions. If the wind speed is high (10 to 15 mph or greater), water ap-
plication even with close sprinkler spacing may be spotty and er-
ratic. Under these conditions plants as well as the flowers and fruit
may be severely damaged. With little or no wind, about 0.15 inch
per hour of irrigation is required for frost protection down to a
temperature of 22 F and about 0.25 inch per hour from 22 OF to 18 F
(36). If irrigation water is taken from a pit, the water is generally
colder than that from a well, and greater amounts may be required
for protection. Further information on cold protection can be ob-
tained from Florida Extension Circular 348, "Sprinkler Irrigation for
Cold Protection."

Harvesting and Marketing
Most of the strawberries harvested in Florida are shipped fresh
to northern markets from December through April for immediate
sale. To obtain a high quality product, fruit should be less than three-
fourths full color when harvested (40). Fruit that are fully ripe are
easily bruised and deteriorate or decay in transit. Discard overripe
fruit or those with decay spots, since any decay can easily spread
to adjoining fruit (40). Since strawberries are highly perishable, the
fruit should be cooled immediately after harvest. Fruit should be
cooled to just above freezing by forcing cold air through the pack-
ing crates (40). Fruit quality is lost rapidly if exposed to warm
temperatures for even a short time. It has been stated that the loss
of fruit quality at a temperature of 85 F for one hour is about
equivalent to one week at 32 oF (26). During warm weather, extra
efforts should be made to cool fruit immediately after harvest.
Towards the end of the harvest period, usually in early April, the
fresh market shipping season ends. Fruit for the remainder of the
harvest period are either sold fresh to local markets and to processors
or are U-picked.
Ease of harvest is influenced by foliage density, fruit size, length
of fruit stalk, and how strongly the fruit clings to the stem.
Harvesting of the fruit, generally, is directly into the shipping flat.
Some grading is done in the packing shed to remove any undesirable
fruit from the flat. Rows should not be so long that pickers spend

an inordinate amount of time carrying flats from field to packing
shed. Packing sheds can be located on both ends of rows to shorten
carrying distance.
Malformed fruit can be a problem in Florida and its severity varies
with the year, the cultivar, the grower, and even the particular field.
Malformed fruit are the result of incomplete pollination of the
strawberry flower (22). The extent of the malformation is closely
related to the number of pistils on the flower that are not fertilized
(22). There are many reasons for malformed fruit. On some cultivars,
the number of malformed fruit increases as the temperature rises
above 104 F because of decreased pollen activity (51). Fungicides
sprayed on day of flowering can inhibit pollen germination and cause
malformed fruit (51), as can lack of pollinating insects (51). Other
causes are frosts or freezes, cold but not freezing temperatures ac-
companied by wind and/or rain, parasite damage, overcrowded plant
beds, fungi, cold soils, and, with some cultivars, poor quality pollen
(33,34). Additional causes are herbicide injury, the tarnished plant
bug, boron deficiency, and localized rot caused by blossom petals
adhering to fruit (45). A Rhizoctonia, sp. fungus can cause malform-
ed fruit (31), as can high N (17), low levels of foliar zinc and copper
(24), and larvae of army worms and other insects feeding on flowers.
Boron levels in the young but fully expanded foliage should be 25
ppm or greater, and the zinc and copper levels are recommended
to be above 20 and 10 ppm, respectively (24). Determination of the
cause of malformed fruit can be difficult since the damage is often
not noticed until days or weeks after it occurred and the causal agent
may no longer be present.

Controlling Diseases, Insects, Mites, and Nematodes
Consult the bulletin, "Diseases, Nematodes, and Insects Affecting
Strawberries in Florida" (in preparation) and the latest pest control
guides available from your local Extension office. These contain il-
lustrations of strawberry pests and the latest information on
pesticides available, rates to use, instructions for application and any
restrictions on their use.

Strawberry Cultivars
New cultivars are released on a continuing basis. Consult your local
Extension agent for varieties adapted to your area and which are
best for local market use, for shipment out of state, or for the home


Selecting the Soil Site
For soil type, drainage, weed problems, and irrigation water see
the Fruit Production selection.
Natural Fertility: The fertility of the soil should be low if using
cultivars that are highly susceptible to anthracnose. Most Califor-
nia developed cultivars are moderately to highly susceptible to this
disease (30). Anthracnose is a serious problem during June, July,
and August and is favored by high soil fertility (30). Unlike salts from
applied soluble fertilizer, the natural fertility of a soil cannot be readi-
ly leached with irrigation.
Special Problem: Growing a nursery on an area where fruiting
strawberries were grown the same year can present problems.
Crowns and roots of the previous strawberry crop may not have
decomposed before fumigation, and nematodes and diseases can sur-
vive in the intact crowns and roots (48) during fumigation and in-
fect nursery plants.
Land Preparation
The information given in the Fruit Production section is applicable
for the nursery. Since the strawberry plants grow on both beds and
row middles, the entire nursery area must be fumigated. Fumiga-
tion of the nursery is either completed in one operation by glueing
adjacent polyethylene strips together or by treating the soil in alter-
nate strips which involves two operations. For the latter procedure,
the polyethylene mulch is removed about a week after the first
fumigation and the untreated strips are then fumigated and mulch-
ed. When removing the mulch from the first fumigation, deposit the
soil securing the mulch into the untreated area so that it may be
treated in the next operation. All mulch needs to be removed from
nursery before bed preparation.
Bed Preparation
Bed height should be no higher than required to prevent water
damage to plants from flooding. On well drained soils, the wheel
track may give sufficient height. With poorly drained soils, beds may
need to be 4 to 5 inches high. All beds should have gentle slopes from
bed center to wheel track. When selecting the bed width, considera-
tion should be given to the density of the mother plants, transplan-
ting date, the plant producing ability of the cultivar, desired plant
size, and the equipment available. Distance between bed centers is
usually 4 to 6 feet. Beds should be firmly pressed to prevent
transplants from settling into bed.

Plant Spacing
Plant spacing down the row depends on the plant production
capability of the cultivar, the bed spacing used, and whether the
nursery is grown in the summer or winter. For the winter nursery,
beds with 4-foot centers generally have a plant spacing down the
row of 2 feet for prolific plant producers and 1 to 11/2 feet for low
and moderate plant producers (30). In the summer nursery with
4-foot bed centers, a 2 or 3 foot plant spacing may be required.
Growers who use 6-foot centers require closer spacing of plants.
Depending on how prolific the cultivar is, plant spacing varies from
1 to 2 feet for these wider beds. Of course, all nursery beds have
only one row of plants each. As the density of the daughter plants
is increased in the nursery, crown size decreases and the petiole (leaf
stem) length increases (30). Since small crowns and long petioles are
undesirable, a compromise must be reached by the grower between
plant number and plant size.
Planting Date
The winter nursery is usually planted in January. If the weather
is cool during January and February, little growth occurs, but the
plants grow rapidly once the weather becomes favorable. Since the

: : ;~.-:': ...,~'i~, ,*~h~ ,-


Figure 6. Fumigation is an important step in the successful production of
healthy strawberry plants.

winter nursery furnishes plants for the summer nursery, late plan-
ting of the winter nursery may delay planting of the summer nursery
because of small plant size and/or few plants. The summer nursery
should be planted in late May or early June. Those cultivars highly
susceptible to anthracnose should be set in June (30) to reduce risk
of infection by the fungus.

Plant Sources and Quality
Local plants should be stored in a cooler for 6 to 8 weeks before
setting in the winter nursery. When placed in storage, plants must
be surface-dry, packed in plastic lined containers, and stored at
temperatures just above freezing (30). When set in the nursery, these
plants are quite vegetative and a few flowers appear soon after plan-
ting. The removal of the flowers as soon as they appear will enhance
vegetative growth (2). Plants which are dormant and held in cold
storage for months (out-of-state plants) do well in the winter or sum-
mer nursery. Local cultivars are generally grown in winter nurseries
in Florida and planted directly into summer nurseries without
storage. Plants should not be removed from the fruiting field and
placed in a summer nursery since these plants may be infested with
nematodes, nor should a fruiting field be used for a summer nursery
(30). As in the fruiting field, only high quality plants, free of disease
and nematodes, and not damaged in storage or transit should be set
in the nursery.

Follow the procedures for testing soil in the Fruit Production sec-
tion under fertilization and apply phosphorus, calcium, and
magnesium as required.
For the winter nursery, plants should be fertilized after plant
establishment with a band of fertilizer placed about 1 inch deep and
2 to 3 inches to one side of plant row and applied at the rate of 200
lbs per acre using a 10-10-10 fertilizer. Subsequent fertilizer applica-
tions should be correlated to the level and frequency of irrigation
and plant growth. Since anthracnose is not a problem until mid-May,
soil fertility should be maintained at a high level until that time. App-
ly 100 to 300 lbs per acre of a 10-0-10 fertilizer by broadcasting it
over the plant bed every 2 to 3 weeks to maintain rapid plant growth
and dark green foliage. More fertilizer is required in April and May
than in January and February. Maintain the soluble salts level in the
top six inches of the soil between 700 and 1400 ppm. Sprinkler ir-
rigation after broadcast fertilizer application is necessary to wash
fertilizer from foliage (30).

For the summer nursery, a different procedure must be used
because of anthracnose (30). The nursery area needs a low initial
soil fertility level. Apply the initial band of fertilizer after plant
establishment as in the winter nursery. From this time until Mid-
August apply only enough fertilizer to keep plants growing and with
the foliage color a moderate green. Do not permit plant foliage to
become dark green and luxuriant in appearance. Anthracnose can
be a serious or even a disastrous problem under these conditions.
Apply no more than 100 to 150 lbs per acre of a 10-10-10 fertilizer
at each application during June to late August. After late August
increase the fertilizer rate to provide rapid growth (200 to 400 lbs
weekly of 10-0-10). Maintain soil soluble salt levels as in the winter
nursery during May, but observe the plants closely for signs of an-
thracnose as long as the temperature remains above 75 oF and the
relative humidity is high (48).
Planting Depth and Establishing Plants
See Fruit Production section, establishing plants
Weed control
Nurseries are generally treated with a multi-purpose soil fumigant
which controls many weeds (12). Some legumes are not controlled
by this treatment and must be controlled by cultivation and hand
weeding. Labeled herbicides may provide assistance in weed con-
trol (35). Before using a herbicide, check for plant toxicity by treating
a small area. Tolerance to herbicides will vary with the herbicide
used, the cultivar, the soil type, and the weather. Strawberry plants
are most susceptible to damage from herbicides when newly
transplanted or as young daughter plants (47).

Soil moisture must be maintained in the nursery at levels equal
to that in the fruiting field. In addition, the soil surface must be kept
moist with irrigation when the first series of runners begin to root
(30). This becomes less of a problem with rooting of subsequent run-
ners since the initial runners tend to shade the soil and keep it moist
and somewhat cool. Nevertheless, special attention should be given
to maintaining a moist soil surface.
Heavy summer rains often create problems of excess water. Areas
of the field may flood and retard plant growth or cause plant mor-
tality. It is important that soils have good drainage.

1. Albregts, E. E. 1968. Influence of plant size at transplanting
on strawberry fruit yield. Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc. 81:163-167.
2. Albregts, E. E. 1969. Blossom removal in the strawberry winter
nursery. Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc. 81:146-148.
3. Albregts, E. E. 1971. Influence of plant density on strawberry
fruit production. Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc. 84:156-159.
4. Albregts, E. E., and C. M. Howard. 1972. Influence of defolia-
tion on strawberry growth and fruiting response. HortScience
5. Albregts, E. E., C. M. Howard, and S. L. Poe. 1973. Plant den-
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growth and fruiting response. Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc.
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sources and drip irrigation on strawberries. Proc. Soil and Crop
Sci. Soc. Fla. 37:159-162.
8. Albregts, E. E., and C. M. Howard. 1978. Evaluation of plant
density on strawberry growth and fruiting response. Proc. Fla.
State Hort. Soc. 91:298-299.
9. Albregts, E. E., and C. M. Howard. 1978. Effect of bed height
and N fertilizer sources on fruiting strawberries. Proc. Soil and
Crop Sci. Soc. Fla. 38:76-78.
10. Albregts, E. E., and C. M. Howard. 1979. Effect of two and four
row beds with drip or sprinkler irrigation on strawberry fruiting
response. Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc. 91:73-74.
11. Albregts, E. E., and C. M. Howard. 1980. Effect of plant chill-
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This publication was promulgated at a cost of $3,873.00, or 38.7
cents per copy, to provide information on strawberry produc-
tion in Florida.

All programs and related activities sponsored or assisted by the Florida
Agricultural Experiment Stations are open to all persons regardless of race,
color, national origin, age, sex, or handicap.

ISSN 0096-607X


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