Strawberry mulch touch up

Now is a good time to make sure strawberries are covered uniformly.

Over the last few weeks, strawberry growers have asked me about the idea of redistributing the straw mulch used to cover strawberries during the winter. During winter, winds frequently remove straw mulch off of rows growing on the edges of fields, on hillsides and in other areas of fields where too little straw was placed last fall. Over the years I have responded to this question stating that it is important to inspect strawberry fields at this time of winter and to recover those areas where straw mulch may have blown off.

The reason it is useful to recover these areas is that it helps to create a field that will be much more uniform in berry ripening this summer during harvest. Most frequently, areas where mulch has been removed in winter begin to grow earlier in spring and ripen earlier during harvest. It has also been my observation that the yield will also be reduced in these same areas and that berry size and quality will be reduced.

Most often this recovering can be accomplished quickly by walking fields and using a pitch fork to move mulch around.

While it is hard to point to research findings on this topic, it is well known that when strawberries are covered well with mulch over the winter that they will survive the effects of winter much better and will lead to improved yields the following growing season.

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