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Cass County Extension

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Winter Protection for Strawberries

In North Dakota, mulching is needed to protect strawberry plants from severe winter cold. Strawberries have produced the fruit buds for next years crop during this growing season. Exposure of these buds to temperatures as low as 20 degrees F. can seriously reduce the yield of quality berries next year.

When the ground is frozen in the fall, cover your strawberries with a 4 inch layer of clean straw or marsh hay. Soybean straw works very well. If the area is not protected from the winds, boards or branches may be needed to prevent the mulch from being blown away. Do not depend on snow for good winter protection. Mulching also protects strawberry plants against rapid alternate freezing and thawing in early spring.

Leave the mulch on the plants until they begin to grow in the spring. Check them frequently. When plant leaves begin to yellow, remove the mulch at once. The mulch will help hold back the spring bloom until the danger of severe frost has passed.

When removing the mulch, lift the straw from over the rows and place it between the rows. Leave some of the finer mulch materials in the row. The plants can easily grow through a light covering and the berries will be kept clean during the growing season. It will also help keep down weeds and conserve moisture. If a late spring frost threatens plants in bloom, use the mulch from between the rows to cover them.

Todd Weinmann, Extension Horticulturist & Master Gardener Coordinator
Phone: (701) 241-5707

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