Produces many runners, small sized berries that are sweet, resistant to most diseases.
Altitude: 1250 – 2200 east of the rift valley.
Temperatures: – 10 – 300C
-Well distributed 1200mm. Where rainfall is less than this irrigation is necessary at 25mm/week. The crop does not tolerate drought. Irrigation by drip increases the yields, improves the size and appearance of berries and prolongs the harvest period.
-Grows on wide range of well drained soils. Although, deep sandy loams, rich in humus are most ideal, with good moisture retaining capacity. The drainage should be sufficient to keep the water level at least 80 – 100cm below the soil surface. Poor drainage makes the strawberries weak and susceptible to diseases..
The ideal soil pH range is 5.5 – 6.5. Avoid saline soils.
Suitable growing areas: include Kiambu, Nyeri, Nairobi, Kirinyaga, Kitale, Kericho, Naivasha, Molo, Embu, Kinangop, Sagana, Kitengela, Athi River etc.
‘Douglas’: Californian origin.
-Precocious, vigorous plant, clear foliage and semi-erect habit. Great fruits, of elongate conical shape and orang-red colour. Firm flesh, red-coloured with pink centre, good taste and resistance to transport. High yielding.
Propagation and planting:
Strawberries are vegetatively propagated through splits and runners’ .Splitting is the most common method used to propagate strawberries, seeds are rarely used because most are not viable, and the few that are viable take a long time to reach a good transplanting height. Before planting work the soils so that there is deep and a reasonably loose planting bed.
- Trim the leaves
- Trim the roots
- Dip the split in a fungicide solution for 24Hr prior to planting e.g ridomil, pearl, cotaf, master,etc to prevent fungal infections
Prior to planting dip the split in clean water for 30 minutes.
Dig holes of approximately 7.5cm deep, 30cm between rows and 30cm between plants giving a plant population of 75,000 plants per Ha. Apply 2gms/hole of a recommended nematicide e.g mocap , bionematode, nembedicine etc.
The crown is very short and will not tolerate deep planting. Roots should not be allowed to dry. The middle of the crown should be level with the top of the soil. Soil should be watered after planting to set the strawberry plants in the ground (Avoid watering plants directly. Drip irrigation works best). After the initial watering, the soil will settle and the soil line should be even with the bottom of the crown as indicated in the picture.
Weed Control/Field hygiene:
At planting time, the soil should be weed free. After planting, weekly cultivation is recommended to remove weeds when they are small. Regularly remove all the diseased runners and leaves.
Avoid planting with fertilizers to avoid dehydration of the splits, since the plant goes into dormancy for 14 day. Within the first month deflower the first flowers and the second flowers to prevent premature fruiting. After 30 days fix CAN 10gms per hole in between the plants. The second month, top dress with NPK 17:17:17, 10gms (1 tablespoon) per hole between the plants. Fertilizers should be used to maintain soil fertility and maximize plant growth and fruit production. Strawberry being a heavy feeder needs to be regularly boosted with foliar feeds e.g easygrow vegetative, flower and fruit, calcium to firm the skin of the fruit and to decrease fruit deformities. Strawberries are self pollinating but cross pollination achieves a better yield.
NB: Do not over fertilizer or you will have excessive leaf growth and poor flowering.
Mulching help conserve ground moisture, keep fruit clean and adds humus to the soil. Avoid placing mulch when the plant is too young. Wheat straw or hay can be used for strawberry mulch. Do not use black plastic since it will raise the soil temperature and optimal fruit production requires cool soil.
During the cold and rainy season, the strawberries go into a rest period, at this stage all old and diseased leaves are removed off the plant to reduce infection from diseases or pests increase aeration and allow re-growth of foliage. Removed leaves should be collected and burnt outside the field. Cut off runners regularly except for those needed for planting. One or two runners can be rooted for the next planting. After seven month thin the plants to leave the mother and three daughters. The thinning can be established elsewhere.
-In the first month of establishment water daily in the evening for 30 days. This will help in root establishment and initial vegetative growth. From the second month onwards, after applying mulch, water twice or thrice a week depending on the weather. Best method of watering is through drip, watering can or low pressure hose pipe.
NB: high pressure sprinkler cause flower abortion, fruit bruises and contributes to fungal diseases on the leaves.
Maturity and Harvesting:
Maturity of strawberries is a function of the temperatures prevailing during the growth period.
The warmer the temperature the faster the maturity.
Maturity period ranges from 75 – 90 days depending on the variety.
Berries should be picked when they are completely ripe or half ripe. All ripe berries should be picked otherwise they become overripe or rotten by the next picking.