Strawberries, particularly the June-bearing types, tend to produce a lot of runners and daughter plants in a patch. This leads to overcrowded plants that compete for light, moisture, and mineral nutrients and leads to a reduction in the amount of berries produced in a strawberry patch, said a University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator.
“In order to minimize competition among plants and maintain a productive June-bearing strawberry patch over an extended period of time, the patch needs to be renovated immediately at the end of harvesting season every year,” said Maurice Ogutu. “The patch can be renovated until the plants have had three to four fruitings or until the plants are not performing optimally. The plants that are not performing optimally may be destroyed and a new strawberry planting established on a different location,” he said.
Ogutu described renovation as the removal of the higher percentage of old strawberry plants from established plantings to allow natural replacement with new daughter plants that will produce more fruit. Renovation leads to thinning out old plants in order to provide more space for new plants. Weeds are also controlled during renovation and it enables fertilizer to be applied and incorporated into the soil.
“When the strawberry plant has fruited, its ability to fruit again is drastically reduced,” Ogutu said. “The patch can only be rejuvenated by removing most of the old plants so that the remaining plants can produce runners, runners that will develop into new plants. The new plants will produce more berries with higher yields from the patch.
“Renovation should be done every year, and no more than one week after the harvest,” he said. “The strawberry plants tend to become semi-dormant for a period of four to six weeks after harvest. If the weather is dry during this period, the plants may resume growth when a suitable rainfall occurs or after irrigation,” he said.
Renovate strawberries by following the directions below:
— Mow the foliage by clipping the leaves and leaf stalks about 1 inch above the crowns. Mowing plants to ground level may injure the crown where the runners arise and this may lead to the death of the plants. Do not mow plants if they are unhealthy.
— Narrow the strawberry row to 10 to 12 inches wide. Rake the leaves from the selected area. Remove plants outside the selected area using a shovel or a rototiller. Weeds are controlled at the same time, and the weeds in the selected areas where strawberry plants were not removed can be hand pulled or controlled by applying recommended herbicides.
— Apply complete fertilizer or fertilizer types recommended for your area at the rates of 1 to 2 pounds per 100 square feet by broadcasting on the patch.
— Water the plants or irrigate by applying 1 inch or more of water. If it is too dry, apply water to ensure that the root zone is well soaked up to a depth of 6 inches. Water will dissolve and leach fertilizers to the plant root zone. Water will activate herbicides to control weeds and also stimulate growth of new shoots, runners and daughter plants.