Thursday, 18 July 2013

Managing that Heatwave


Hello strawberry lovers, this heatwave has been great for bringing on the main crop of berries this year but it is presenting growers with a problem that we haven't had to deal with in Ireland in living memory - drought. I picked two drills of berries yesterday and noticed a lot of scorched leaves, aborted berries and even some dead plants. So here is a quick list of things you can do to help you strawberries through the heat wave.

1. Watering: Watering in the evenings or very early mornings is the easiest way to solve the problem. Never, ever water in full sun, the quick evaporation from those big strawberry leaves will burn the plant.
2. Pruning: Strawberries lose most for their moisture through the leaves. Remove any leaves that are starting to brown - they are just a liability to the plant.
Lost of ripe berries but lots of scorched leaves...
3. Picking: At this time of the year most breeds of strawberries are putting all their energy into growing berries. So pick any ripe berries (like you're not doing this already) to conserve energy and water for the plants.
4. Mulch: Different mulches offer different things to strawberry plants but they will all help to preserve moisture around the plants. Of course, they can't make moisture out of this air - so it you are laying some bark or grass clippings or whatever in the hot weather - just water it in afterwards.
5. Old/aborted berries: If you see berries that are not right - maybe they're shriveled up or old or just not 100 per cent - remove them from the plant. Strawberries will naturally abort fruit if the growing conditions are not okay - and the berries just detach themselves from the plant. You can help this process along and save you plant some energy and water.