U-Pick Strawberries and Growing Tips

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iStockphoto.com/Denis Pogostin
Ripe red (and green) strawberries on the vine.

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Interest in U-Pick?

A U-Pick business can be a fun and rewarding money-making venture. However, such a business takes hard work and dedication. Advertise heavily the first year in local newspapers; after that, the berries will sell themselves by way of repeat customers and word-of-mouth.

In addition to having “some berries for sale,” your patch should be large, neat, organized and weed free. This attracts customers and ensures they will return the following year. We also offered “We-Pick” for those unable to bend over for significant lengths of time. It is appropriate to charge quite a bit more per pound when the patch operator is doing the picking. Open every other day to ensure plenty of available berries for pickers.

Common and Uncommon Strawberry Problems and Solutions

  • Deer – These beautiful creatures eat leaves and browse the patch. It’s an occasional problem, with no real solution other than fencing.
  • Beetles – Such pests cause only some slight boring/nibbling damage. The only solution I know of is chemical application.
  • Birds – Cedar waxwings especially like to eat first the red, then the pink, and even the white unripened berries in turn. The desperate solution is to shoot into the flock. Commercial noise-makers are available from www.InBerry.com, but they are not cost effective for small patches. Use red-painted pebbles early in the season to fool the birds into thinking that the real berries later in the season are hard and tasteless.
  • Diseases – Surecrop is not susceptible to common strawberry diseases. Other varieties may require chemical application. Use crop rotation methods.
  • Clover and Grass – These can become invasive if not watched closely. Weed with great care. It is best to move the patch to a new location every 3 to 7 years.

Fun Facts

  • Strawberries are a member of the rose family.
  • 1.5 pounds of berries = 1 quart = 4 cups, sliced
  • On average, there are 200 seeds in one strawberry.
  • California produces 75 percent of the nation’s strawberry crops.
  • In France, strawberries were cultivated in the 13th century for use as a medicinal herb.
  • Madame Tallien, of Emperor Napoleon’s court, was famous for bathing in the juice of fresh strawberries. She used 22 pounds per bath.
  • The Romans prized wild strawberries for the fruit’s medicinal properties. They believed the berries alleviated such symptoms and disorders as melancholy, fainting, inflammations, fevers, throat infections, kidney stones, halitosis, gout, and diseases of the blood, liver and spleen.
  • One cup of sliced, fresh strawberries has 50 calories and 3.8 grams of fiber. Healthwise, strawberries (and all berries) are nutritional powerhouses – loaded with vitamins A and C, and several important minerals.

Berry Plant Sources

Other good varieties include Earliglow, Redchief, Sparkle and Honeoye. Check out the offerings at these sources: