Note to readers, attached is the complete final report for FNE96-131.
Mr. Hatch experimented with planting density of strawberries in an earlier SARE project (FNE95-87). He found that a dense planting of 29,000 plants per acre was helpful in suppressing weeds, produced vigorous growth of the strawberry plants and also gave a high count of fruiting stems per foot of row. In the present project he compared several varieties, planting dates and planting densities of strawberries and also experimented with various measures for weed control.
Results: 1) dense planting (rows 36″ apart, 6″ spacing within rows, which gives 29,000 plants/acre) combined with plowing and flaming in the seedbed prior to planting was successful at suppressing only the summer annual weeds, such as amaranth, lamb’s quarters and purslane. This significantly reduced the time and money that had to be spend on hand weeding, but it did not give control of winter annual weeds like Shepard’s purse or purslane speedwell, nor of perennials such as chickweed, mouse-eared chickweed or chamomile. The herbicides Dachtal and Gramoxone Extra likewise did not control perennials or winter annuals.
2) Comparison was made of four varieties–Earliglow, Kent, Seneca and lateglow–planted at high density on three dates, June 21, July 5 and July 17. The earliest planting gave the greatest number of inflorescence’s per meter of row in the case of Kent and Seneca and particularly in the case of Earliglow. In the case of Lateglow, the latest planting gave the most. Of these four varieties and three planting fates, Kent planted on June 21st yielded most, in terms of inflorescence’s per meter of row. This plot also required the most pruning, however, as its production of runners was far in excess of what is desirable. In fact, all the early plantings required considerable pruning.
3) In a comparison of July plantings at high density, Honeoye fared better than Annapolis, which suffered high mortality.
4)In a comparison of May plantings at low density (rows 36″ apart, 24″ spacing within rows, for 7250 plants per acre), Annapolis yielded better than Mohawk.
5)In a comparison of Annapolis planting in May at low density, verses Annapolis planted in July at high density, the former yielded better. Annapolis, like Earliglow, is not suited to late plantings.
Mr. Hatch has shown that plantings made as late as mid-July were able to establish themselves successfully, which adequate fruiting (upwards of 25 inflorescence’s per meter of row), when densely planted. The advantage of a late planting is that, as less remains of the season, labor and management costs are lower. Mr. Hatch cautions however that there is a disadvantage to late plantings, namely that less time remains to correct mistakes that may have been made.
Mr. Hatch recommends high-density planting, particularly for organic growers. The greater cost of having to buy more plants is more than offset by the diminished cost of labor for hoeing. He also recommends not mowing after harvest, as another weed suppression measure.