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Plant Manual for Surecrop Strawberry

To the left, you'll find all the topics covered in this Plant Manual. Select a topic to read its information.

Plant Description

Low-maintenance and productive — a sure thing. This variety is hardy, disease-resistant and very vigorous. You can just plant, sit back, and let them produce. You'll enjoy large yields — baskets of big, red, sweet strawberries. Cold hardy. Ripens in June. Self-pollinating. Pkg. of 25 plants.

Location

The best way to succeed is to plan before you plant. Let’s discuss location: Do you know where you want to plant your new berry plant? Avoid many future problems by considering all aspects of the planting spot, such as:

  • Cross-pollination
  • Sun and good soil
  • Leave space for future planting

Cross-Pollination

Is a pollinator variety present? Cross-pollination by a different variety, of the same type of plant, is key to the success of many plants. In most cases, its absence is why the plant doesn’t bear fruit or produces poorly. Most berry plants are self-pollinating, but for a larger fruit and crop plant more than one variety.

Sun and Good Soil

Your plant would love a sunny place with well-drained, fertile soil. But it will be quite satisfied with six to eight hours of sunlight. Good drainage is required to keep your plant “happy.” If your soil has high clay content, use our Coco-Fiber Potting Medium or add one-third peat to the soil at planting time. We do not recommend planting berries in heavy, pure clay soils.

Even if your yard isn’t the most ideal location, take heart. Most berries are very adaptable and respond well to fertilizers, so they can get along well even where the soil is nutritionally poor. Just steer clear of sites with extremely heavy soils or very poor drainage.

Space for Future Plantings

Once you’ve found out about fruit growing goodness firsthand, you’ll want to expand your home orchard. It’s important to plan so that the future growth areas will be ready when you are.

Planting

Few things are as delicious as homegrown strawberries, and the success of your harvest begins right with the planting site and method. For maximum growth and yields later on, give your plants the best foundation possible.

Before Planting

Before you plant, check your soil pH. Contact your local County Extension Office for information about soil testing in your area, or purchase one of our digital meters for quick and accurate results. Ideally, your strawberries need a soil pH between 5.3-6.5. Strawberries will thrive in nearly any garden soil, even doing well among sand or rocks., but steer clear of soils that are extremely heavy or poorly drained.

  • Since strawberries are fussy about being too deep or too shallow, make sure the crown is planted just right.
  • Firm the soil around each plant and water well with a starter solution of Stark® Strawberry Food.

Planting Tips

  • Strawberries come in bare root bundles. When you receive your plants separate the bundled plants, remove any dried leaves at their tops and soak the roots in water for an hour or two before planting.
  • Plant them early in spring, while the ground is still cool and moist, and in a sunny spot, if possible.
  • Fan out the roots, keeping them straight down. (If the roots are long, you can trim them back to about 4 to 5”, before planting.)
  • Plant the crown even with the soil line. Avoid planting too deep or too shallow.
  • Firm the soil around each plant and water well with a starter solution of Stark® Strawberry Food.

First Year Blossoms

  • We typically recommend you pinch off all blossoms during the first season, to save the plant’s strength for heavier bearing in following years. But as long as new plants get off to an early start and are growing well, you can leave on just a few flower buds. A few berries will not weaken the plants, and a small crop the first year is always welcome!
  • For everbearing varieties, it’s best to remove all the early-season blooms. Then you can let the later blooms develop and harvest a crop in late summer the first year.
  • During the summer, the plants will grow lots of runners. These will take root and become new plants. To keep your strawberry bed neat and to save a path down the middle, encourage these runners to stay within the row. Just lift the runner before it roots and head it in the right direction.

Planting Beds

There are three methods in which you can plant your berry patch: matted rows, hill rows or solid beds. Strawberries can also be grown in containers.

Matted Rows

  • This is the most popular system in the northern and eastern states. The plants are set out in late winter and spring and are spaced 1½-2’ apart in rows with 3½-4’ between rows. The mother plants set at this spacing send out runners in all directions to make a mat 1½-2’ wide, and solid the whole length of the row. This system is best used by June-bearing varieties since the ever bearer types don’t set many runners. If you decide to use this system for everbearers, you should use the closest recommended spacing.

Hill Rows

  • This system is used in areas where growth may continue most of the year. In the South and Gulf Coast states, the beds are made 8-10” higher. With single hill beds, the plants are spaced 1’ apart in the row with 3’ between rows. Put the outer rows 3-4’ apart. Plants utilizing this system are grown as annuals since runners are not produced and all fruit is harvested from the mother plants. Use Rapid Red Mulch Film as mulch with this system.

Solid Beds

  • This is the ideal planting system for the backyard gardener with a small strawberry patch where it’s not necessary to walk between the rows. Set your plants about 10-14” apart in the row with the rows 1½-2’ apart. The runner plants will spread freely from the mother plants, and you’ll have solid strawberries. First-season cultivation is an important step in establishing a productive ongoing strawberry bed. Your plants should be covered with about 4-6” of straw; wheat straw is best. Don’t put your mulch down until the ground freezes through, because if put down too early, it will keep the plants from “hardening off” to winter’s blast. Come spring, rake this covering aside and use it as a ground cover to keep the strawberry bed moist and weed-free.

Containers

  • Strawberries can also be grown in containers. Select a location with at least 5-6 hours of sun a day. Strawberries only need about 4-6 inches of soil for their roots so shallow containers will work. Whatever size or shape container you use, make sure they have adequate drainage holes in the bottom. Water your strawberry plants whenever the soil is dry to ½ inch depth. Do not over water as constant damp soil encourages disease, but don’t allow the plants to dry out either. If the plants produce runners, train them into the container so they will take roots, then plant into new pots to start fresh plants. Be sure to keep the soil around the new plants damp until roots are established. When the plants no longer produce well, replant your container with fresh soil and new plants.

Additional Notes

  • If birds bother your berries, cover the bed with a Garden Net.
  • We recommend replanting your strawberry beds every two to three years.
  • For June bearing types, plant this spring, harvest next June. In early August, remove foliage by mowing at 3-4” height and fertilize. In the third spring, start a new bed. Harvest fruit in June on original bed. Destroy plants after the second harvest to prevent disease and since production goes down.
  • For everbearing varieties, start harvesting in mid-summer of the first year. Start a new bed the next spring. Continue to harvest all summer long on the original bed then destroy it. The finest and best yields are from young vigorous plants that are allowed to crop for a maximum of two seasons.
  • Life of plants 3-4 years with proper maintenance.
  • Suggested number of plants for a family of 5: 100-150 (25 plants per person).

Soil Preparation

Preparing your soil before you plant will greatly improve your plant’s performance and promote healthy, vigorous growth. It is a good idea to have your soil tested to determine if it is lacking in any essential minerals and nutrients. This can be done through your County Extension Office or with one of our digital meters.

The goal of soil preparation is to replenish vital minerals and nutrients, as well as break up and loosen any compacted soil.

When To Prepare Your Soil

Soil preparation can be done at any time that the ground is not too wet or frozen. Your trees may be planted even when temperatures are quite cool. If a hard frost is expected, it is advisable to delay planting for a while until temperatures become more moderate. Generally, as long as your soil is workable, it is fine to plant.

How To Prepare Your Soil

  • Roots grow faster when they’re spread out. Dig the hole deep and wide enough so the root system has plenty of room to easily expand. Keep the topsoil in a separate pile so you can put it in the bottom of the hole, where it’ll do the most good.
  • To loosen the soil, mix dehydrated cow manure, garden compost or peat moss (up to 1/3 concentration) into your pile of topsoil. Make sure the peat moss you get is either baled sphagnum or granular peat. You can also add our Coco-Fiber Potting Medium or 2 or more inches of organic material and work in evenly with the existing soil.

Your lawn can provide you with ideal organic materials such as grass clippings and shredded leaves. Not only will the grass and leaves break down to provide soil nutrients, but they will help loosen the soil as well. You can gather these in the fall with spring planting in mind.

Common soil amendments:

  • compost
  • sand
  • manure
  • lime
  • peat moss

Adding organic materials, such as our Coco-Fiber Potting Medium and compost will improve most every soil type. Organic materials bind sandy soil particles so they retain moisture and nutrients better. They also break apart clay and silt particles, so that water can infiltrate and roots can spread.

Soil Types

  • Clay and silt soils are made of very small particles. They feel slick and sticky when wet. Clay and silt hold moisture well, but resist water infiltration, especially when they are dry. Often puddles form on clay or silt soils, and they easily become compacted.
  • Loam soil is a mix of sand, silt or clay, and organic matter. Loam soils are loose and look rich. When squeezed in your fist, moist loam will form a ball, which crumbles when poked with a finger. Loam soils normally absorb water and store moisture well. Loam soils can be sandy or clay based, and will vary in moisture absorption and retention accordingly.
  • Sandy soils contain large particles that are visible to the unaided eye, and are usually light in color. Sand feels coarse when wet or dry, and will not form a ball when squeezed in your fist. Sandy soils stay loose and allow moisture to penetrate easily, but do not retain it for long-term use.

Fertilizing

During the fall, continue to use Stark® Strawberry Food on already-established plants. This will improve vigor, promote fruiting and increase berry yields each spring. Be sure to follow all package instructions.

Insects and Diseases

Every plant has the future potential for disease and insect damage. Factors such as location and weather will play a part in which issues your plants encounters. If available, disease-resistant varieties are the best option for easy care; and for all types of plants, proper maintenance (such as watering, pruning, spraying, weeding, and cleanup) can help keep most insects and diseases at bay.

Tarnished Plant Bug

Yellow-brown winged insect may have black spots or red stripes. Inject toxins into the buds and shoots that cause ‘dwarfed’ shoots and sunken areas (cat facing) on fruit.

Natural Control

  • Bonide® Insecticidal Soap
  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray

Chemical Control

  • GardenTech® Sevin® Concentrate Bug Killer
  • Bayer Advanced™ Complete Insect Killer

Leafroller

Pale yellow or ‘dirty’ green worms. Leaves are rolled and webbed together where insects feed. Eventually becomes skeletonized.

Natural Control

  • Bonide® Captain Jack’s™ Deadbug Brew

Chemical Control

  • Bonide® Borer-Miner Killer
  • GardenTech® Sevin® Concentrate Bug Killer
  • Bayer Advanced™ Complete Insect Killer

Strawberry Leaf Beetle

Adults are small beetle that feed on leaves making many small holes. Larvae feed on roots. Plow up bed in mid summer to kill the larvae. Replant with new plants in another bed.

Control

  • Consult County Extension Agent

Crown Borer

White legless grub 1/5” long hollows out crown, plants slowly deteriorate and die.

Control

  • Consult County Extension Agent

White Grubs

Large fleshy grubs eat roots of new plants, which slowly die. Don’t plant in areas that were recently grass.

Control

  • Consult County Extension Agent

Spittlebug

Immature bugs are small green, soft-bodied and adults are small (1/4”) winged insect that feed on the plant sap. They are surround by a white mass that looks like spit.
They suck on the sap, weakening the plants.

Natural Control

  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray

Chemical Control

  • Bonide® Borer-Miner Killer
  • Bonide® Fruit Tree Spray

Weevil

Lays eggs in flower buds, and girdles the stem. Larvae feed on buds and destroy them.

Chemical Control

  • Bonide® Borer-Miner Killer
  • Bonide® Fruit Tree Spray
  • GardenTech® Sevin® Concentrate Bug Killer
  • Bayer Advanced™ Complete Insect Killer

Japanese Beetle

Adult is metallic green beetle. Skeletonizes leaves. Larvae are grubs which feeds on turf roots. Check turf product labels for timing of control of grubs. This is more of a problem east of the Mississippi River.

Chemical Control

  • Bonide® Borer-Miner Killer
  • Bonide® Fruit Tree Spray
  • GardenTech® Sevin® Concentrate Bug Killer
  • Bayer Advanced™ Complete Insect Killer

Aphids

They are the size of a pinhead and vary in color depending on the species. Cluster on stems and under leaves, sucking plant juices. Leaves then curl, thicken, yellow and die. Produce large amounts of a liquid waste called “honeydew”. Aphid sticky residue becomes growth media for sooty mold.

Natural Control

  • Bonide® All Seasons® Horticultural & Dormant Spray Oil
  • Bonide® Insecticidal Soap
  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray

Chemical Control

  • Bonide® Borer-Miner Killer
  • Bonide® Fruit Tree Spray
  • GardenTech® Sevin® Concentrate Bug Killer
  • Bayer Advanced™ Complete Insect Killer

Spider Mite

Not a spider, but a tiny mite, sucks the juices from the leaves causing them to develop yellow and reddish-brown spots. Leaves die and drop. Underside of leaf appears to be dusted with white powder.

Natural Control

  • Bonide® All Seasons® Horticultural & Dormant Spray Oil
  • Bonide® Insecticidal Soap
  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray

Chemical Control

  • Bonide® Borer-Miner Killer
  • Bonide® Fruit Tree Spray

Fruit Rot

Gray, hairy mold. Decays blossoms, green and ripening fruits as well as harvested fruits.

Control

  • Consult County Extension Agent

Leaf Spot

Purple spots on leaves, may or may not have gray centers. Can be round but also fan-shaped. Can cause leaf curl. Many fungi cause spots and affect different varieties differently.

Natural Control

  • Serenade® Garden Disease Control
  • Bonide® Copper Fungicide Spray or Dust
  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray

Chemical Control

  • Bonide® Fruit Tree Spray
  • Bonide® Captan Fruit & Ornamental

Leaf Blight

Appears as large red to brown spots with purplish margins. Mostly on older fruiting plants.

Natural Control

  • Serenade® Garden Disease Control
  • Bonide® Copper Fungicide Spray or Dust
  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray

Downey Mildew

Usually appears on the underside of the leaves as tufts or downy masses of vegetative tissue leaves. Shoots and buds may be curled and whole plant somewhat dwarfed. Is more prevalent in humid weather.

Natural Control

  • Serenade® Garden Disease Control
  • Bonide® Copper Fungicide Spray or Dust

Slugs

Soft bodied, looks like a snail with no shell. Burrows into ripening fruits.

Natural Control

  • A proven method of control is to put aluminum pie pans out with 1” of beer they crawl in and drown. Be sure to empty daily.

Other Control Options

  • Consult County Extension Agent

Red Stele

Plants wilt and die, usually just before or during harvest. Roots decay and show red cores. Control by rotating crops with at least 4 years between them. Most resistant variety is ‘Surecrop’.

Control

  • Consult County Extension Agent

Mites

Pinpoint in size, many different colors. Found on undersides of leaves. Sap feeding causes bronzing of leaves. Severe infestations have some silken webbing.

Natural Control

  • Bonide® All Seasons® Horticultural & Dormant Spray Oil
  • Bonide® Insecticidal Soap
  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray

Chemical Control

  • Bonide® Borer-Miner Killer
  • Bonide® Fruit Tree Spray
  • GardenTech® Sevin® Concentrate Bug Killer
  • Bayer Advanced™ Complete Insect Killer

Leaf Scorch

Occur when leaf cells overheat, browning and tissue death around leaf margins and between veins.

Natural Control

  • Bonide® Copper Fungicide Spray or Dust

Gray Mold

The fungus thrives in cool, moist conditions. Usually begins on plant debris, weak or inactive plant tissue, than invades healthy plant tissue. Causes spotting and decay of flowers and foliage, tissue becomes soft and watery. Affected parts of plant could wilt and collapse. If humidity remains high a grayish-brown coating and spores develops over the surface of the collapsed tissue.

+ Natural Control+

  • Good sanitation will help avoid the problem.
  • Remove and destroy dead leaves, flowers and dead plants.
  • Water the plants at soil level and not on foliage.

+ Chemical Control+

  • Bonide® Captan Fruit & Ornamental

Pruning

Pruning is an important part of proper edible plant care, but many people find the task overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be! Keep these things in mind:

  • You can have confidence in knowing that not everyone will prune the exact same way (even the experts).
  • There are several reasons to prune: to maintain the size and shape of your plant, stimulate strong growth, and overall fruit quality.

Pruning Tips

  • For June bearing types, plant this spring, harvest next June. In early August, remove foliage by mowing at 3-4” height and fertilize. In the third spring, start a new bed. Harvest fruit in June on original bed. Destroy plants after the second harvest to prevent disease and since production goes down.
  • For everbearing varieties, start harvesting in mid-summer of the first year. Start a new bed the next spring. Continue to harvest all summer long on the original bed then destroy it. The finest and best yields are from young vigorous plants that are allowed to crop for a maximum of two seasons.
  • If you are unable to use a mower on your strawberry plants, due to it being in a raised bed or potted, you can use shears or scissors. Cut about 1 inch above the crown when trimming.

Spraying

Spraying is important to the survival of your plants. To handle potential diseases and pests, reference the guidelines below to know what you should spray, and when you should use it.

Before you begin, read and follow all instructions on labels.

When To Spray

Dormancy (late winter/early spring)

  • Bonide® All Seasons® Horticultural & Dormant Spray Oil for mites and aphids.

New Growth Through Harvest

  • Bonide® Copper Fungicide Spray or Dust for downy mildew, leaf spot, leaf scorch and leaf blights.
  • Bonide® Captan Fruit & Ornamental for leaf spot and gray mold.

New Growth Until Bloom Time

  • Bonide® Fruit Tree Spray for aphids, weevils, spider mites, spittle bugs, Japanese beetles,and leaf spots. (No more than 8 applications per growing season.)

At The First Sign Of:

  • Bonide® Insecticidal Soap for plant bugs, aphids and mites.
  • Bonide® Captain Jack’s™ Deadbug Brew for leafrollers.
  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray for plant bugs, spittlebugs, aphids, mites, leaf spot and blight.
  • Bonide® Borer-Miner Killer for leafroller, spittlebugs, weevils, Japanese beetle, aphids and mites. (No more than 8 foliar applications per growing season.)
  • Serenade® Garden Disease Control for leaf spot, leaf blight and downey mildew.
  • GardenTech® Sevin® Concentrate Bug Killer for plant bugs, leafrollers, weevils, Japanese beetle, aphids, mites and more.
  • Bayer Advanced™ Complete Insect Killer for plants bugs, leafrollers, weevils, Japanese beetle, aphids, mites and more.

Watering

Unless you’re in an area where irrigation is usually needed for normal plant growth, you probably won’t need to water after the first growing year. Until then, follow these guidelines to get your new strawberries off to a great start.

General Guidelines

  • If summer brings about one to one and a half inches of rainfall every week or so, you won’t need to use the hose. But if it gets really dry, you can give your new plant a good, thorough soaking. The best way to do this is to let your garden hose trickle slowly. This gives the water a chance to soak in instead of running off. You can also use a soaker hose to water several plants at once.
  • It’s important to note that even if you’re in the midst of a brown-lawn drought, you don’t want to water too much. Once every week is plenty. Worse than dry, thirsty roots is waterlogged, drowning roots.

Harvesting

Are you ready to enjoy delicious homegrown fruit? Harvest is the time to enjoy the results of your hard work. Keep a few things in consideration as you reap the fruits of your labor: the best time to pick the fruit from your tree, and how to store the fruit.

When to Harvest

You can start your strawberry harvest in the second season. Pick your strawberries in the early morning while they are cool. For the sweetest fruit pick your berries when they are fully red in color. Snap the stem directly above the ripe berry.
Strawberries are easily bruised so be careful when picking. Keep your picking container in a cool, shady location. Don’t overload your container or you will crush the fruit on the bottom.

Refrigerate your berries immediately after harvest they only keep for a few days. Washing can speed up spoiling so don’t wash your berry until ready to use.

Annual average yield:

  • Per June bearing plant, 1 pint
  • Per everbearing plant, ½ - 1 pound

Storage

If not able to use right away put berries on a cookie sheet in a single layer and freeze until firm and then put them in freezer bags to enjoy all year long.


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Bare-root Trees

Trees that are shipped without soil to ensure good contact with soil in your yard. When shipped, they are about 3-4' tall with 3/8" or larger trunk diameter. When they mature, they will be one of three sizes*:

Dwarf

Matures to be about 8-10' tall and wide. Provides an abundance of full-size fruit.

Semi-Dwarf

Matures to be about 12-15' tall and wide. Gives maximum fruit yield per square foot.

Standard

Matures to be about 15-25' tall and 20' wide. A multi-purpose fruit and shade tree.

Stark Supreme Tree®

Top-grade, bare-root trees that give you a head start on growing. When shipped, they are about 4-5' tall with 5/8" or larger trunk diameter.

EZ Start® Potted Trees

Trees in bottomless pots that allow some roots to be air pruned, so that a dense mass of productive, feeder roots can grow within the pot to make transplanting easier. Mature sizes vary. When shipped, they are about 1-2' tall.

Select EZ Start® Potted Trees

Top-grade, potted trees chosen to give you a head start on growing. When shipped to you, they are about 3-4' tall.

*Tree sizes may vary by variety. See our Growing Guide for details.