WARNING: Cold weather on strawberries
Posted January 23, 2017
From Karla Kean and Dave Lockwood at UT Extension:
With the recent extended stretch of above normal temperatures, strawberry plants have received all the cold they need and have started to become active. This means that they are no longer capable of withstanding low temperatures without damage. Temperatures in the mid to low 20’s are being predicted for this weekend. Damage can occur to plants at that temperature
With this in mind, matted row strawberry growers should be sure to apply straw mulch if they have not already done so. About 3 bales of loosely shaken straw should be enough to give a 2 t 3 inch cover over the entire planting. Leaves do not work well as they mat down and can smother the plants. Mulching can provide some cold protection and slow down plant development. In spring when the weather has moderated and a few blooms are started to show, straw on the row should be raked into row middles where it will be of value in suppressing weeds, reducing soil splash on fruit located at the edges of rows and reduce muddy areas in the walkways.
Plasticulture strawberry growers should be getting ready to put row covers over the rows for protection. Applying row covers when temperatures are too high can be a problem in that it can speed up plant development. Therefore, the covers need to be put on just in front of the cold and possibly taken back off for a while after the cold weather has abated.