For me, ripe strawberries are a key indicator of early summer. (Where I grew up, strawberry picking was a regular mid- to late June activity. In southern Kansas, strawberries start ripening in May.) As I was walking the Demo garden this morning, I observed that our strawberries are beginning to bud and flower.
As a bit of background, we planted a variety of strawberry last spring called ‘Eversweet.’ ‘Eversweet’ is considered a day neutral variety, which means it will set flower buds and produce fruit regardless of the number of hours of sunlight in the day. Therefore, it is capable of fruiting from late spring through frost. The downside to most day neutral varieties is that the flower buds will abort when temperatures are above 85-90 degrees for several days in a row. In Kansas, that is a large part of the summer!
‘Eversweet’ was advertised as being tolerant of temperatures up to and above 100 degrees. I tend to be skeptical of such marketing statements, so we decided to try a patch in the demonstration garden. We are now going into year 2, and indications are that the yields will be reasonable to start the year. We will continue to report as the weather gets hot in the summer!
It is apparent that the cold/unpredictable spring thus far has not deterred the strawberries from putting on buds, even though I wish they had more leaves. If you look closely at the pictures of the buds and flowers though, you will notice the black spot in the center of the flowers. This is an indication that the cold temperatures damaged those flowers, so they will probably not set a berry. The later buds should be fine.
Adding to the To Do list for next Tuesday’s work day – Fertilize the strawberries!