Removing Straw in the Strawberry Patch
It’s not the purpose to protect the plants from cold. I put this straw on in December, and what I’m trying to do is to keep the temperatures from going up and down so much at the base of the strawberries.
Strawberries are very shallow rooted, and if you get a lot of freezing and thawing over the winter, the plants can be heaved out of the soil. If they come out of the soil, they’ll dry out and possibly die.
So, the straw is used to moderate the temperatures, not to keep the plants warmer. What you’ll want to wait for is a soil temperature at about 40 degrees. There has been research done that shows that is the correct time to take it off. If you wait too long, the plants will have reduced yield this next spring.
This is a soil thermometer which is different than most thermometers. It has a metal stem. When you use this thermometer, you’ll want to push it in about that deep. The best thing to do is to come in a couple of feet from the edge of the bed, and set the thermometer into the soil. Push it in several inches and wait for it to stabilize. You can see that our thermometer is right at 40 degrees.
That means that this bed is ready to be uncovered. You’ll want to leave some straw because you don’t want the berries to be sitting on bare ground. So, take off just enough for the new growth to come through the straw, and that will be fine.
Around the edge of the bed, we’ll leave more straw. It give the berries protection, and it will give you a dry place to pick , even after a rain.
This feature story prepared with Ward Upham, Kansas State University Research and Extension Research Assistant. For more information, visit your local county extension office or visit our website at KansasGreenYards.org.