Hazeltine Strawberries


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The Strawberry Plant

 

     

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As business owners and managers, the Hazeltines keep busy, especially during June, with marketing, advertising, customer service, and promotion of their strawberries.  As farmers, they keep busy the entire year caring for both the strawberries and the strawberry plant itself.  

 

The Strawberry Plant

Strawberry growth starts from the crown of the plant.  Strawberry crowns are perennial (live year after year) but their roots are annual.  Each year the strawberry plant sends out new roots from the crown.  This means that after a few years the roots get higher and higher up the crown.  This is why older plants need to have soil added to them.

 

Types of Plant

"June Bearers" are the most productive and most common in southern Wisconsin because they produce their fruit before the dry part of the summer.  Although they have experimented with some variables at times, all Hazeltine Strawberries are of this type.

 

Climate

Strawberries are usually a cool-weather crop.  More important to strawberries than climate is the "photo-period" (the plants' response to light).  The length and amount of daylight 'tells' the plant when to blossom and when to produce runners. 

June bearers produce flowers, or bloom, under shorter days of spring; they produce runners during the longer days of summer.  

 

The Growth Rate Of The Strawberry

The time needed from  flower to mature fruit- depends on the external temperatures; the higher the temperature the faster it grows.  The growth slows down as the temperature lowers.  Any temperature lower than 40 degrees Fahrenheit will cause the plant to go into a state that resembles dormancy.

Water is very important to the strawberry during fruit formation and throughout fruit development and maturity.  If there is not enough water, it will show in the poorer quality of the fruits.  The water needed to "plump up" the berry will go out of the berry and into the leaves and crown to keep the plant alive under hot and dry conditions.  The fruits shrivel and probably never will regain their desired size.  It is very important to have plenty of water during the period of final fruit swell (just before the berries get ripe).  Hazeltine Strawberries has an extensive irrigation system to help provide just the right amount of water needed at all times. 

It is advised to pick off the blossoms during the first year so the plant puts all of its energy into its own growth instead of fruit production.

 

Planting Site

Strawberries are not particular about the soil they grow in.  They grow on a wide range of soil types, but soil that has some sand in it is best.  The sand in the soil helps maintain good water drainage.  Strawberries will not tolerate "wet feet".  If planted in an area where standing water appears on the soil surface well into the spring, there is likely to be problems with a poor yield.

Strawberries require full sunlight to do their best.  They will grow in shade, but if the shade is too heavy they will produce very little or not bear any fruit at all.

 

Planting

Spring planting is best for strawberries in Wisconsin and most parts of the country.  (In the south, where strawberries are grown as a winter crop, they are planted in the fall.)

When bundles of new strawberry plants arrive, their roots are moistened just before planting; as this helps activate the roots when they are placed into the ground.  Hazeltines use a vegetable planter to plant large quantities at once.

The preferred training method used by commercial and home growers alike is the matted-row method.  Plants are set out in rows.  These rows are about 2 feet wide with a pathway space between rows.  The plants are placed from 6 to 10 inches apart.

 

Training Strawberry Plants:

It is important to train runners so that they stay within the confines of the row, and not grow into the pathways.  Occasional tilling of the pathways will help keep them free of runners and daughter plants.  If ignored, the rows will fill in and become one giant unmanageable mess.

Pathways are mulched with chopped rye or straw to keep down weed growth and to help keep moisture in the soil.  It also keeps the dust down and the berries stay cleaner when there is a mulch.  

To control weeds, careful hand hoeing, shallow cultivation, and old-fashioned 'pulling' will rid of most weeds.  About 70% of a strawberry plant's roots are located within the top 4 inches of the soil and 90% of the roots are within the top 6 inches.

 

Winter Care

A winter mulch must be applied to the strawberries after the first hard frost.  A light frost will not harm the plants, but they should be protected from hard freezes.  If the mulch is applied too early, the plants will not become as winter hardy as they should.  They could suffer during the coldest parts of the winter if they do not have a mulch cover.  If applied too late, the plants will have already experienced damage to their crowns and next year's fruit buds; resulting in a poorer crop.

Winter mulch covers the plants during the winter.  The mulch must be cleared each spring or it will delay the growth.  When new leaves start to develop in the spring, the winter mulch must be raked off the plants and placed between the rows in the pathways.

The purpose of a winter mulch is to protect the plants from cold and against soil heaving due to changing temperatures.  The mulch should be at least 4 inches thick.  Snow acts as a natural winter mulch that will insulate plants from the cold.  Because snowfall is unreliable, it is better to use straw.

 

 

(Source: This information provided in part by Wisconsin Berry Growers Association.)

 

 

 

 

 
 

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