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Maintaining a Strawberry Bed

June 6, 2018

Fresh strawberries are a favorite of almost everyone. Strawberries are relatively easy to grow and are hardy throughout Iowa. There are basically three types of strawberries – June-bearers, everbearing strawberry and day-neutral cultivars. Horticulturists with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach answer questions about keeping strawberry plantings productive. To have additional questions answered, contact Hortline at or call 515-294-3108.

How do I keep my strawberry planting productive?

strawberry plant with ripe fruit. A June-bearing strawberry planting can be productive for four or five years if the bed is given good care. One important task is to renovate June-bearing strawberries immediately after the last harvest.

The first step in the renovation of June-bearing strawberries is to mow off the leaves 1 inch above the crowns of the plants with a rotary lawnmower. This should be done within one week of the last harvest. (Do not mow the strawberry bed after this one week period as later mowing destroys new leaf growth.) To aid in disease control, rake up the leaf debris and remove it from the area.

June-bearing strawberries grown in 2-foot-wide matted rows should be narrowed to 8-inch-wide strips with a rototiller or hoe. When selecting the part of the row to keep, try to save the younger plants and remove the older plants. If the strawberry planting has been allowed to become a solid mat several feet wide, renovate the bed by creating 8-inch-wide plant strips. Space the plant strips about 3 feet apart. 

Fertilization is the next step in renovation. Apply approximately 5 pounds of 10-10-10 or a similar analysis fertilizer per 100 feet of row to encourage plant growth and development.

Water the strawberry plants once a week during dry weather. Strawberries require approximately 1 inch of water per week (from either rain or irrigation) for adequate growth. Irrigate the planting during dry summer weather to ensure optimum production next season. Irrigation during the summer months encourages runner formation and flower bud development. (The flower buds on June-bearing strawberries develop in late summer and early fall.)

Control weeds in the strawberry planting by cultivating and hand pulling. Cultivate 1 to 2 inches deep to avoid damaging the roots of the strawberry plants.

Should everbearing and day-neutral strawberries be renovated like June-bearing strawberries?
Everbearing and day-neutral strawberries should not be renovated like June-bearers. Everbearing and day-neutral strawberries are most productive when the plants are maintained as large, single plants. All runners that develop on everbearing and day-neutral strawberries should be removed. Matted rows of everbearing and day-neutral strawberries are not as productive as single plants.

A well-maintained planting of everbearing or day-neutral strawberries should remain productive for two or three years.

Source: Iowa State University