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Growing Strawberries in Oklahoma

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Is there anything that tastes better than a fresh-picked strawberry? Gardeners who are looking forward to savoring that flavor know how rewarding it is to grow strawberries.


Because Oklahoma tends to be quite sunny in the summer, strawberries are a good choice for the garden. Strawberry plants need at least six to eight hours of sun each day, so choose the growing site carefully. Early spring is best to get plants in the ground because this will give them time to get established before the summer heat arrives.


Something else to consider is strawberries have several diseases in common with other garden favorites such as tomatoes, peppers and potatoes. When choosing a site for the strawberries, make sure it hasn’t been used for any of these plants for several years.


Strawberries need to be planted in well-drained soil to prevent root rot and fruit spoilage. The soil may need some amendments added before planting. They grow best in a slightly acidic to neutral soil pH. A quick soil test will help gardeners determine the quality of the soil. Contact your Oklahoma State University Extension county office for information about soil testing.


Irrigation is an important part of growing strawberries, so it’s best to choose a site that is close to a water source. Raised beds and mounded rows will also help with drainage and prevent root rot.


When shopping for strawberry plants, choose varieties that are well-suited to Oklahoma’s climate. June-bearing varieties such as Ozark Beauty and Allstar are good choices. They produce from May through mid-June. Other varieties produce later and planting different varieties will ensure gardeners can harvest all season. When shopping for strawberry plants, be sure to buy certified, disease-free plants from a reputable supplier.


Ideally, strawberries should be planted in raised beds or mounded rows to improve drainage. Space the plants 12 inches to 18 inches apart and space rows about 4 feet apart to allow the runners to grow. A healthy plant can produce anywhere from 30 to 50 runners in a season. Set the crown of the plant level with the ground surface when planting and make sure to spread out the roots. 


Keep an eye on the forecast before planting strawberries. It’s getting close to planting time, but everyone knows how unpredictable the weather can be. They won’t establish a good root system if exposed to prolonged cold weather.


The plants will need about an inch of water per week. Adding mulch around the plants will help the soil conserve moisture. It will also help cut down on invasive weeds. 


For the strongest plants and best production, remove all flowers throughout the first season. If berries are allowed to develop the first year, they will reduce plant growth, runner development and next year’s crop. Gardeners should expect a berry harvest the following summer.


For more information on growing strawberries, check out OSU Extension’s Growing Strawberries in the Home Garden fact sheet.  

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