February 25, 2018

Growing practices for day-neutral strawberries in a low tunnel system

Irrigation

The success of your strawberry plants is highly dependent on having a properly installed drip tape irrigation system.  The strawberry plants needs consistent monitoring of moisture levels, followed by proper watering and fertigation. For a complete tutorial on how to set-up these systems, please refer to the proper irrigation water management considerations, published by the University of Minnesota Extension service. 

De-flowering and Removing Runners

Throughout the early part of the season, you will need to remove flowers as well as runners from the plants.  Flowers should be removed approximately three times.  For our project, we removed flowers in early June, again in mid-June, and finally in late June.  This video, produced by the University of Maine, provides a lot of information on day-neutral strawberry production; pay particular attention to how to remove flowers and runners. 

Insect Management

As a grower, you will need to monitor for the tarnished plant bug using an integrated pest management approach.  This insect is prevalent throughout the entire flowering season.  Close monitoring for this pest is essential.

One of the newest pests to threaten quality strawberry fruit is the spotted wing drosophila (SWD).  In order to monitor for SWD, you will need to construct or purchase traps.

To make your own SWD trap, we recommend using a red solo cup. Poke small holes in the cup, and then tape to the top portion of a plastic bottle as shown below.

SWD Trap

Trap for SWD.

Recipe for SWD trap bait:

  • 12 fl oz water
  • 4 T sugar
  • 1 T active dry yeast
  • 1 T apple cider vinegar
  •  1-2 T whole wheat flour

For more information on SWD, please refer to the Spotted Wing Drosophila fact sheet from the University of Minnesota, the Regional Pest Alert on SWD from the United States Department of Agriculture, or the Spotted Wing Drosophilia fact sheet from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food.