Plant strawberries in the fall? When is it too late and too early to plant in Arkansas? | Education

Planting strawberries in the fall for a robust harvest the following spring is typical for growers. But when is it too late to plant strawberries in the fall in Arkansas?

The Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, the research arm of the Agriculture System Division of the University of Arkansas, conducted a three-year study to provide updated recommendations for strawberry establishment. of autumn in the natural state.

During the 2018-2020 growing seasons, researchers planted test plots of Chandler strawberry seedlings in late September and early October at the Agriculture Division’s Southwest Research and Extension Center near Hope. and at the Fruit Research Station near Clarksville for a late planting date study.

Amanda McWhirt, assistant professor and fruit and vegetable extension specialist, said the 2018-2020 late planting date study included plots planted on what was considered “on time” – the last two weeks of September – then a week later in the first week of October. The 2018-2020 fall weather provided some “worst-case” looking conditions, as temperatures dropped soon after planting in those years, McWhirt added.

The researchers simultaneously evaluated the use of row covers applied in the fall, which could potentially help keep young strawberry plants warm enough to continue producing crowns when air temperatures drop. Strawberry crown development in the fall is important because the crowns eventually produce flowers in the spring that turn into a strawberry.

“If you’re planting strawberries late in the fall, it might be beneficial to use a row cover to keep the plants slightly warmer, which can help them continue to develop crowns in the fall, and that can result in a slight increase in yield the following spring,” McWhirt said. “But using the row cover will never make up for the loss of daylight from late planting, even in as short a time as a week. “

If planted too late in the fall, there simply aren’t enough days for the plant to establish enough crowns before the plants go dormant due to cooler temperatures, resulting in fewer flowers and of fruit the following spring, she explained.

McWhirt said the late planting treatment reduced strawberry yield by 15 to 35 percent depending on variety and year tested.

Growers sometimes have to delay planting when the soil is too wet for soil preparation. For example, McWhirt said hurricanes sometimes push wet weather from the Gulf of Mexico into the fall.

She said producers seem to be reacting to the results of the study.

“I’ve seen a shift in growers thinking about being aware that every week they’re delayed in planting is going to impact the yields they can get the following spring,” McWhirt said. “So they tried to prioritize getting their land ready earlier and making sure their strawberry plant sources are contacted on time.”

EARLY PLANTING STUDY

In the fall of 2021, researchers focused on how to plant strawberries early in the fall to maximize yield potential. The researchers planted strawberries weekly in September, then what they considered too late – the end of the first week of October – at the Fruit Research Station and the Vegetable Research Station near Target. Varieties tested included Camino Real, Chandler, Fronteras and Ruby June.

Preliminary results indicate that planting too early could reduce yield potential, McWhirt said. Further analysis of the data will provide the ideal two-week window for optimal planting of strawberries in the region.

“We’re still analyzing the data, but we’re starting to see you have the potential to crash way too early,” McWhirt said. , so he thinks it’s summer and starts making runners instead of wreaths.

Strawberry runners are horizontal stems that extend above ground and produce new “baby” clone plants at the end of the long horizontal stem.

McWhirt said she plans to release full 2022 season data in July at the Mid-America Strawberry Growers Association’s annual meeting.

Comments are closed.