* Jan. 31, 1903, at Tallahassee, Fla., as second-class
der Act of Congress of June, 1900. "Acceptance for
special rate of postage provided for in Section 1103,
t. 3, 1917, authorized Sept. 11, 1918.'
Artcraft Printers, Tallahassee
FLORIDA QUARTERLY BULLETIN OF THE
DEEPARTIMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Commissioner of Agriculture
By H. S. Elliot, Chief Clerk Department of
The strawberry belongs to the rose family and
certainly deserves its botanical name, Fragaria (from
fragra, to emit a sweet odor), for no other fruit is so
delicately and so exquisitely fragrant. There are
perhaps a dozen species, but all are allied to a
greater or less extent but about four, which may be
considered distinct species. Of these, the Fragaria
Virginiana, the Virginia or Scarlet strawberry, is the
source of our common wild strawberry, which is
found from the Arctics to Florida, occurring in a
great many localities throughout the country. The
strawberry was apparently known to the Romans,
but only in its wild state. The first mention of the
cultivation is in England in 1483, during the reign
of Richard the Third, but no improved variety ap-
pears to have been known until about the latter part
of the 18th century, after the introduction of the
large flowered and the Virginia strawberries. With
the production of these improved seedlings, as well
as hybrids, new varieties increased rapidly, until at
the present time the number is almost unlimited.
The strawberry is a perennial plant which propa-
gates itself by sending out runners on which at every
few inches new plants are formed, and which take
root and in turn send out runners. From these
newly set plants on runners, new beds are trans-
planted into whatever form is desired. In this way
new plants reproduce the parent variety.
Plants may be propagated from seed, but the
plants obtained this way will rarely produce the
variety from which the seeds were taken, because
of the cross pollination of the flowers. New varie-
ties are originated by the planting seed, but other
varieties are perpetuated by runner plants.
In a botanical sense the strawberry is not a true:
fruit, but belongs to what can properly be termed
the compound fruits, such as blackberries and rasp-
berries. Some varieties of strawberries produce'
without stamens, or the pollen producing (male)
organs, while others produce perfect flowers; or in
other words, those containing all of the essential
organs of reproduction. The first of these are desig-
nated as pistillate varieties and the latter as bi-
sexual. These latter are capable of producing fruit
without the presence of other varieties, while the:
pistillate varieties must be planted in alternate posi-
tions with the bisexual or they cannot produce. To,
the grower of strawberries, especially if for market,
we therefore suggest that he plant only the perfect
A variety may be adapted to a certain soil and
climate, and yet be wholly unsuited under some
varying conditions not far distant, where no reason
for failure is apparent. One or two degrees of lati-
tude may with some varieties bring total failure,
while with others just the reverse is experienced;
so it is that many varieties that succeed in the high-
est degree north of Florida will produce practically
nothing when attempted to be grown here, and vice
The principal requirements for market varieties
or for private gardens either in Florida are:
First, adaptability to our climate; second, produc-
tiveness; third, fair size; and fourth, quality, which
includes both flavor and firmness, the latter being
positively essential, that the fruit may be able to
stand the rough handling by transportation com-
panies, so that it may be received at its destination
in the best condition possible.
Of the considerable number of varieties that will
succeed well in Florida, we will suggest only a small
number of those apparently best adapted to our soil
Extra Early-Excelsior and Missionary.
Early-Improved Lady Thompson, Klondike, Hef-
Late Varieties-Gandy, Aroma.
All of these are perfect varieties, and by planting
a succession of any of these in the order named,
strawberries of the very best quality can be had for
both foreign and domestic markets or home con-
sumption, from December to June, in the various
sections of Florida.
SOIL AND ITS PREPARATION.
The selection of soil and location for the straw-
berry farm should be made with a view to furnish-
ing an ample water supply, for this is the one big
thing indispensable in successful strawberry culture.
It is a very deep rooted plant, its roots having been
traced to a depth of four feet. Consequently it must
have an abundance of water, and surface watering
is impractical unless artesian water supply is avail-
able, and where the latter condition is obtainable
there should be no doubt of the success of straw-
berry culture. But in either case a well drained,
deeply stirred, friable sandy loam or clay loam soil
containing plenty of vegetable matter will be more
retentive of moisture and much more easily culti-
vated and kept free of weeds and grass. They are
the best of all soils for growing strawberries.
In the preliminary preparation of soils for the
planting of a strawberry farm, it is well to follow
a series of well cultivated crops, two at least, for
instance, corn and peas, or Irish potatoes and peas,
or equally as good, oats followed by peas, to elim-
inate the grass and weeds and place the soil in fine
condition. After the peas are cut for hay, about the
first to middle of September, or before October the
first, plow under the stubble thoroughly and then
cross it with a good disk harrow so as to pulverize
the soil and cut up any runners that may not be cut
in turning under. Run out the furrows two, three
or four feet apart, as may be preferred, where the
strawberries are to be planted, and in these furrows
spread the fertilizer; then bed on these furrows and
flatten down the beds with a roller or hoe, leaving
them slightly elevated or oval in form, before setting
the plants. This will leave the plants when set
slightly elevated above the general surface, making
cultivation easier and giving better drainage. It is
probable that the best distance for the rows to be
apart is three feet and the plants set eighteen inches
apart in the row. In small gardens any distance
that suits the grower or the size of the garden
In setting the plants it is generally best to cut
back the roots possibly about one-third. This can
be rapidly done with a good pair of shears. Then
in setting out the plants spread the roots out in a
natural position as near as possible, and never crowd
them into a small round hole, and also in covering
them be careful not to set so deep that dirt will get
into the crown. Under usual conditions October is
the best month to plant strawberries in Florida, es-
pecially if irrigation is available.
Land for strawberries cannot be made too rich;
all kinds of decomposed vegetable matter makes
good manure, but weedy manure should be carefully
avoided, as it will add to the trouble of cultivation.
The plants should not be permitted to spread be-
tween the rows, but it does not matter if they run
or mat between the hills of the row; these are the
plants to propagate from. It is also well to mulcn
the ground between the rows with pine straw or
other material, late in the fall when the plants are
growing well, as a protection to the fruit, keeping
it clean or free from dirt or sand, and this may also
be continued into spring, as sometimes it is neces-
sary to cover the plants as a protection from threat-
As before stated, water is absolutely essential to
the production of fine berries, and it is a waste of
energy, time and money to make poor grades. Ship
only the best, if best prices are desired.
"There are three things that are absolutely essen-
tial to successful strawberry culture. They are:
plenty of water, a rich, well fertilized soil, and thor-
ough cultivation. If these cannot be had, straw-
berry growing for market at least had better not be
A good plan is to top dress the plants when they
begin to put out their first new leaves well. This
can be done by sprinkling the fertilizer alongside of
the rows close to the plants and then working it well
into the soil about the plants with rakes. A good
fertilizer for this first dressing should be composed
about as follows:
Ammonia ......... ..... ..... .. 4 to 5 per cent.
Actual Potash ... . ....... 8 to 9 per cent.
Available Phosphoric Acid 6 to 7 per cent.
The above should be applied at the rate of about
600 pounds per acre. The next application of fer-
tilizer should be made as soon as the first indication
of bloom is seen, and it should be applied and
worked in as in the previous instance, at the rate of
about 500 pounds per acre. The second application
is to produce the fruit in preference to plant growth,
so we suggest a formula for a fertilizer about as
Ammonia...... ............... 3 to 4 per cent.
Potash .... ........................ 9 to 10 per cent.
Available Phosphoric Acid. 7 to 8 per cent.
The above fertilizer, or any formula closely ap-
proximating them, can be had already prepared
from the various manufacturers throughout the
State. Machines for the distributing of fertilizer
and mixing them with the soil are also to be had
of either the fertilizer manufacturers or the hard-
ware or implement dealers in most of the cities and
towns in the State.
Yield.-A five-year average yield for Florida
strawberries (1919-23) gives 1,893 quarts per acre.
In the best sections 2,500 to 3,000 quarts are not
uncommon for an acre's yield.
Cost.-If new plants are used each year, and the
average amount of commercial fertilizer is used, an
acre of strawberries will cost from $175 to $250.
In the sections specializing on berries the higher
figure seems the nearest to the actual cost. It will
cost from 10c to 12c per quart to grow strawberries
in the field or from 12c to 15c per quart to produce,
harvest, deliver, and pay all overhead expenses.
Prices.-The highest prices, of course, are paid
for the first berries, prices ranging in dollars-per-
quart. In the season proper, however, the months
of January, February and early March are the best
ones. By April competition has become more se-
rious, the shipments heavier, and the prices lower.
The per annum value, based on a five-year average
price, is 27 cents a quart.