Strawberry Transplant Establishment

Here are a few tips to help you get your strawberry plants well established ahead of cooler winter temperatures.

To start with I would have a crew walk the field to make sure that transplants are in the ground properly.  This means making sure that plugs are making good soil contact.  Check to see that the crowns are just at the soil surface and that no plastic is in between the root ball and the soil.  Another thing to look out for when you have two drip lines is to make sure the plants are not directly on top of the lines.  This can cause the plants to be heaved out of the soil when the irrigation is turned on.

With bare root transplants you need to look for J rooting.  It sounds pretty obvious but roots should not be showing above the soil.  This will result in stunted plants for the entire season.

Water, water, water!  It is exceptionally dry everywhere.  Be sure that transplants are not allowed to dry out.  We usually say that bare root transplants require more overhead irrigation for establishment.  However this year all transplants will require a lot of water.  We saw it all over middle Georgia last fall.  Plug plants were allowed to dry out and much of the roots mass died.  The planting material that nurseries use is good for growing transplants, but once it dries out it is hard to get wet again.  When that type of material is put into the ground the clay in the soil actually wicks the moisture from the root ball.

Finally it is a good practice to check for spider mites.  If you have spider mites you may want to treat this fall, especially if you like to use row covers during the winter.  The dry and warm conditions that row covers provide for your strawberry plants is like the Ritz Carlton for spider mites.  Finally, it never hurts to send some samples of entire plants to a diagnostic lab.  This way if you have any diseases that came from the nursery you can either start your protection early or at least know what to expect as the season progresses.