Fruit & Vegetable Magazine

Features Fruit Production
When to apply winter protection to strawberry fields


October 19, 2009
By Manitoba Ministry of Agriculture

Topics

October 19, 2009 – As
winter approaches, growers find themselves asking when they should be covering
their strawberries with straw for the winter.



October 19, 2009 – As
winter approaches, growers find themselves asking when they should be covering
their strawberries with straw for the winter.

This is always a tough
question. The timing of mulch application can greatly affect the plants ability
to survive winter and can result in significant yield losses if applied at the
incorrect time.

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The guide to Commercial
Strawberry Production on the Prairies
indicates that straw is usually applied
in late fall after several frosts but before air temperature drops to -6.7°C.
This usually occurs between late October and early November. Research at the
University of Illinois determined the best soil temperature to apply straw
mulch to the plants was 4 to 5 °C (at the 4- to 5- inch soil depth). It is
important to remember that plants need to be dormant before mulch application.
Growers can use soil temperature testing combined with their own observations
and guide recommendations to help them determine when to apply straw to their
strawberries.

Wheat or rye straw mulch
should be applied four to six inches thick, which will settle down to two to
three. This works out to two to three tons per acre, or approximately 120 small
bales or 12 round bales per acre required. A loose and fluffy covering of straw
mulch will provide a good insulation layer. It is preferred that straw sticks
up somewhat to help trap snow, as opposed to laying flat.

For more information,
click here
.