We have 24 beds of strawberries planted this year an increase of 25% on last year. We should be buried in berries. The reason we are not is fairly simple….
We plant our berry plants in August, it is hot and takes time which we are short of then. So we take longer to get all the beds planted than we would like. The plants are harvested in January in the nursery and then kept frozen until August. To make sure they establish we you have to take time to plant them carefully. With a combination of extreme weather and lack of time we lost well over 50% of what we planted. In October I called the Nursery to ask for advice and they said they could supply us with freshly dug plants at the beginning of November, which is when they recommended time that we should plant anyway. We duly bought the plants and we planted them during the first week of November. They were the same variety that we planted in August.
They all established well but..... April was cool and the plants remained small. There was an early flush of fruit but no more flowers while the plants put on more growth. Looking at the field in Mid May what I see are plants that we established in August that are much bigger with a good amount of fruit on them. Those planted in November look like we expect the August plant to be in March. So they are a full month and a half behind. So I believe that a combination of the later planting and the cool April is why we have so much less fruit than normal.
So what are we going to do about it for next Spring? Here's the plan.... I have signed contract on my desk for a full order for plants to be delivered at the end of August. During the first week of September Terra Firma Farm in Winters will hire us their labor contractors planting crew of 25 for the day. All the beds will be planted on the same day. This will ensure that the plants establish well and put on enough growth so that they are big enough in April to put out lots of flowers to bury us in fruit for May.
And this years crop... Don't give up, the plants look great. We are putting a great deal of effort to protect them from sun and wind so that we can have lots of fruit in June and July.
Thank you for your patience.. Nigel