We never have an average or normal growing season and we never have the perfect conditions for deploying row covers in strawberries. Today, tomorrow and Thursday we are forecast to be below freezing with chances of frost in any area where the winds die down. Ahead of this weather we had torrential rains and even a few tornadoes. So you either slopped the covers on in the mud or got them on prior to the storms.
We used the covers to protect from the cold, we will need to use our sprayers to protect them once we bring them out. The biggest concern to me is botrytis. Moisture and damaged plant tissue can create a perfect environment for botrytis infections on both plant parts and fruit. Whether you were able to spray prior to covering or you were not, an application of an effective/approved fungicide should be considered once the covers are removed. A listing of fungicides for this disease with a rating can be found on the Southern Region Small Fruit Consortium Website.
If you need help determining what to do with frost protection you should sign up for updates from NC States Strawberry Growers Page. Mark Hoffman is continuing with good updates on forecasts and information regarding best strategies for cold weather protection. The forecasts don’t just cover North Carolina, he gives the forecasts for most of the southern states.
Strawberry blooms are not the only thing that you protect when you cover your fields. You also provide a great environment for spider mites. I have not seen many spider mites in the fields that I have visited, but it is a good idea to scout thoroughly once the covers are removed. We have several effective products, but spider mites need to be controlled early to reduce mid to late season damage.