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my strawberries are not perennials

 
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I'm on my third go-around with strawberry plants.  I believe they are succumbing to viruses.

I order the bare-root plants, for something like $25 for a bundle of 25 plants.  Plant the crowns to the proper depth, fertilize, water, mulch, etc.  

They produce a decent crop the first year, then a half crop the second year plus some daughter runners, then by the third year they die back and I have to buy new plants again

All the info I've read is that virus-free propagation is out of reach of the lowly home gardeners - the greenhouses buy wholesale certified plants cloned via "meristem tissue culture" and other techniques I don't understand

Have not seen any recommendations on treatment or management of viruses.  Basically, toss the plants and buy new ones.  

If that's the best I can do, I'd rather patronize the local U-pick farms where I can fill up crates of ripe berries for cheap money, instead of buying plants and doing all the work myself.

Are there any varieties of strawberries that don't succumb to these viruses?
 
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If you're sure it's viruses, why not try growing strawberries from seed. It takes two years to get to harvest, but it can be done.
 
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Maybe your growing conditions are not right for strawberries?

Strawberries grow best in a deep, sandy loam soil rich in organic matter. The soil must be well-drained. Keep away from areas that remain wet late into the spring. The site should receive full sunlight



https://extension.unh.edu/resource/growing-fruit-strawberries-fact-sheet

The only time I grew strawberries was when we lived in the Piney Woods of East Texas.  The soil there is red with lots of pine trees so I assume this is acidic soil.

I had very good luck with them.

It is my understanding that the strawberry plant is a short-lived perennial and maybe considered perennial because it reproduces like the "daughters" you mentioned.

Why do you feel it is a virus that is causing you problems?

My suggestion would be to add some wood chips and compost.
 
pollinator
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Do you feel like driving to Springfield MA area?   I can give you 50 strawberry plants.   These are SUPER VIGOROROUS at least here.   June bearing.  The patch with the horseradish pot is 4 years old,  started with 6 plants.   The round patch is second year started with daughters from the first.   I literally do nothing with them but yank them out and give them away, and then harvest.  

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Heather Staas
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Also,  it's often recommended to pull/replace old plants after 3 years anyway;  they are considered short lived perennials by a lot of what I've seen.   Honestly,  I have so many runners/ new plants I'm not sure I could identify the "original" plants to bother with.   So you may not be doing anything wrong necessarily?   Maybe just not a variety that repopulates freely?   I'm not a strawberry variety expert though ;)  
 
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Mine is everbearing Ozark Beauty and this variety is hardy in zone 4 to 8. It's very robust and care free. I just harvested the first batch of berries this morning.
 
pollinator
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25$ for 25 crowns is very expensive, so I see your frustration. They are a west coast company, but Peaceful Valley has several varieties, and all less than 25c/crown, and in bulk (1500) under 12c last I ordered. Somewhere in the East coast must be a decent price for good strawberry plants!

On the growing, I use hugel beds for drainage and a lobger season, and kelp or compost tea sprays for plant vigor and disease resistance. The get top dressings of coffee grounds and a little worm castings. I also nearly bury the crowns every fall in woodchips, and then only the vigorous push through in spring. This is instead of selecting runners myself.  We definitely lose some to disease, but not many.
 
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I'll take some strawberry plants!!! Definitely got a place for them wild ones already abundant and would love to have some "ringers" in the orchestra to up my chances of sizaeble fruit.
 
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Davis Tyler wrote:They produce a decent crop the first year, then a half crop the second year plus some daughter runners, then by the third year they die back and I have to buy new plants again


I think i heard in a yuotube video (maybe Curtis Stone?), that strawberries produce better if they are replanted.
Also saw neigbours happily replanting them and having surplus plants that are destined for compost (or giveaway if you interfere on time  ).

Are there any varieties of strawberries that don't succumb to these viruses?


Key to robustness to viruses ist genetic diversity. Try growing some from seed if viruses are your concern.
 
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Can you post a picture of your strawberry plot? Maybe we can notice some clue.

I grow a variety of different types in pots and I have to tear them up every three years but that's to thin them out. I don't have to buy new plants. The runners also have infiltrated my driveway and lawn.

Are you growing an everbearing variety as opposed to a June bearing? June bearing are more vigorous and self-spreading since they are only producing berries in June and then spend the rest of the summer propagating themselves. Everbearing mostly spread at the crown and you have to carefully break them apart or they get crowded and get less and less productive. You'll end up with tiny weakling plants that then succumb to disease very easily.

Also I agree that growing strawberries from seed can be very rewarding and successful. I started an Alpine variety from seed I got off a rotten strawberry in my friends' yard. Very successful germination and I transplanted them to little six-pack cells where they lived for a year inside keeping them moist. I planted them out last spring and they quietly went to work establishing themselves under the leaves of an out-of-control squash. This spring they are giant and bushy and full of flowers. I'm very excited about eating them as the original plant made exquisite tasting berries.
 
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A friend talked me into buying some "everbearing" strawberry plants one year, and I was totally  unimpressed. Maybe if they were babied they'd do well.

When we bought our property, there was a large patch that required minimal care. I'd try to mark older plants and remove them in June when the harvest was over. Periodically, I took some of the babies and planted them elsewhere. Production is partly based on the spring weather, but I've been using the same plant offspring for 20 years now. If I want to move them, I root the runners into little pots by just putting a flat rock over the "umbilical cord" (sorry, I'm sure there' a botanical name for that part of the plant, but I don't know what it is!) to hold the baby in the pot until it's put down roots. It's also dependent on whether the deer manage to break in and mow all the greenery... sigh... I try to protect them from that!
 
Ben Zumeta
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Davis Tyler
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Mark William wrote:If you're sure it's viruses, why not try growing strawberries from seed. It takes two years to get to harvest, but it can be done.



I might try that.  I've had success with alpine strawberries from seed.  If I get organized to start seeds every year along with my annuals, I'd had a steady supply of new plants to root
 
Davis Tyler
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Anne Miller wrote:Maybe your growing conditions are not right for strawberries?

Strawberries grow best in a deep, sandy loam soil rich in organic matter. The soil must be well-drained. Keep away from areas that remain wet late into the spring. The site should receive full sunlight



https://extension.unh.edu/resource/growing-fruit-strawberries-fact-sheet

The only time I grew strawberries was when we lived in the Piney Woods of East Texas.  The soil there is red with lots of pine trees so I assume this is acidic soil.

I had very good luck with them.

It is my understanding that the strawberry plant is a short-lived perennial and maybe considered perennial because it reproduces like the "daughters" you mentioned.

Why do you feel it is a virus that is causing you problems?

My suggestion would be to add some wood chips and compost.



thanks for the link to the UNH article.  I definitely could add more compost and irrigate more often; it quotes 1-2" per week and my patch is not getting that much water.

I also noticed this, maybe I was expecting too much from the day-neutral plants I ordered last time?
"Day-neutral strawberries are generally grown as an annual to be plowed down the spring after planting and replanted every year. Beds can be carried over if they are healthy and weed-free but yields from day neutral strawberries tend to decline dramatically in successive years."
 
Davis Tyler
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Heather Staas wrote:Do you feel like driving to Springfield MA area?   I can give you 50 strawberry plants.   These are SUPER VIGOROROUS at least here.   June bearing.  The patch with the horseradish pot is 4 years old,  started with 6 plants.   The round patch is second year started with daughters from the first.   I literally do nothing with them but yank them out and give them away, and then harvest.



appreciate the generous offer!  Springfield is about 2 hour drive for me, though I do cruise past your exit on the Mass Pike for summer vacation every year...
 
Davis Tyler
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Ben Zumeta wrote:25$ for 25 crowns is very expensive, so I see your frustration. They are a west coast company, but Peaceful Valley has several varieties, and all less than 25c/crown, and in bulk (1500) under 12c last I ordered. Somewhere in the East coast must be a decent price for good strawberry plants!

On the growing, I use hugel beds for drainage and a lobger season, and kelp or compost tea sprays for plant vigor and disease resistance. The get top dressings of coffee grounds and a little worm castings. I also nearly bury the crowns every fall in woodchips, and then only the vigorous push through in spring. This is instead of selecting runners myself.  We definitely lose some to disease, but not many.



I'm in the habit of ordering from Johnny's Seeds in Maine; I had no idea their prices were so much higher: https://www.johnnyseeds.com/fruits/strawberry/strawberry-bare-root-plants/earliglow-strawberry-plants-2432.html?cgid=strawberry-bare-root-plants#prefn1=prod_feature_marketing&prefv1=8&start=1

Peaceful Valley and Stark Bros are much cheaper; I wouldn't be upset replacing $10 worth of plants every other year
 
Davis Tyler
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Jenny Wright wrote:

Are you growing an everbearing variety as opposed to a June bearing? June bearing are more vigorous and self-spreading since they are only producing berries in June and then spend the rest of the summer propagating themselves. Everbearing mostly spread at the crown and you have to carefully break them apart or they get crowded and get less and less productive. You'll end up with tiny weakling plants that then succumb to disease very easily.  



I'm thinking this might be the problem - the ones I bought were "day neutral" and I just read another Extension article saying they're really only productive for one season.  Not my idea of perennials!  Maybe I should go back to the traditional June-bearing varieties
 
Jenny Wright
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Davis Tyler wrote:

Jenny Wright wrote:

Are you growing an everbearing variety as opposed to a June bearing? June bearing are more vigorous and self-spreading since they are only producing berries in June and then spend the rest of the summer propagating themselves. Everbearing mostly spread at the crown and you have to carefully break them apart or they get crowded and get less and less productive. You'll end up with tiny weakling plants that then succumb to disease very easily.  



I'm thinking this might be the problem - the ones I bought were "day neutral" and I just read another Extension article saying they're really only productive for one season.  Not my idea of perennials!  Maybe I should go back to the traditional June-bearing varieties


And if you want to freeze or otherwise preserve them, June bearing tend to give the most fruit overall.

But...

If you want all berries to nibble on all summer long, alpine strawberries fruit all summer, at least all the varieties I've grown or seen grown so. And they spread vigorously by runner in addition to seeds. I think it must be because their berries are much smaller so they can use their energy for spreading in addition to fruiting.

Maybe do both! I'm of the opinion one can never have too many strawberry plants. 😁
 
Jenny Wright
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Ben Zumeta wrote:Just got this promo in my email, $5.99/25 crowns, and much closer to the OP:

https://www.starkbros.com/tags/spring-inventory-sale?Packaging=Bare-root&s=Price:ASC&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=5-19-2022%20SO%20-%20Clearance%20Sale%20-%20Strawberry%20Highlight&utm_content=5-19-2022%20SO%20-%20Clearance%20Sale%20-%20Strawberry%20Highlight+CID_291d246e5be631e1978b74442d984430&utm_source=campaign%20monitor&utm_term=Shop%20the%20Entire%20Sale


Ben, I'd like to thank you for encouraging me to spend more money when I was firmly resolved not to buy any more plants this year. 😛
 
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You may have viruses in the soil? Planting good plants in bad soil may be the issue.

I have made myself some of these



They work nicely, and I was able to use a good soil mix of my choice. The style in this video are particularly good; a slit/pouch that is formed by first cutting with circular saw or angle grinder, then heating with a hot air gun and and jamming a wine bottle in while it cools and sets. I have seen some other styles that use a hole saw cutter to make a big circular opening. I don't like those as the soil falls out.

I grow strawberries and a mix of leafy salad veggies in mine, right by the backdoor.
 
Michael Cox
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My daughter received a lone Seascape ever bearing strawberry plant from school two years ago. That first year it only produced two runners but last year it went crazy and took over half a bed.  From that one plant I have started two new strawberry beds.  
 
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When I started my strawberry beds about 5 years ago, I bought a mix of bare root plants including June-bearing and everbearing. I think they came from Johnny's. They have produced strawberries every year, even the first year they were planted.

They are so vigorous that they invade adjacent beds and the lawn, and would probably take over the garden if not carefully managed.

I dig up the beds every 3 years, moving the best plants to a new bed and planting annuals in the old one. I haven't bought any more plants since the originals, except for Old North Sea heirloom strawberries from Baker Creek. Those have also done well.

I wouldn't be surprised if the everbearing varieties in my original mix have died out, and the current beds become entirely June-bearing. They are used mostly for jam, with some eaten fresh in season and a few frozen, so I don't care much about everbearing.

If strawberries can grow in your soil and climate, they should be very vigorous. Most of the work involved is not babying them, but keeping them under control.
 
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Do they have good drainage?  Too much moisture causes root diseases.  Some varieties are disease resistant.

Do they get too thick? Sometimes they need to be thinned out, removing older plants.

I usually move some young plants to a new location after 2-3 years.  I like to plant in early fall, so I don’t have to weed all summer.  I have gone about 8 years without buying plants.

I only plant day neutrals.  June bearers can take 9 months to a year to produce. If you have a late frost, you could have to wait 2 years for fruit.  
 
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I’m sorry to hear your plants have been troublesome. Did you pinch off the blossoms the first year after planting? My bare root everbearing crowns came with the instructions to not let them flower or set fruit the first year in order to establish stronger roots. And the CSA farmers around here do the same.
 
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