Strawberry Pollination

strawberry pollination

strawberry pollinationStrawberries are relatively simple little plants.  Their genomes have been completely mapped, and their life cycles are fully understood.  But, as simple as strawberry plants may seem, they are still complex enough to warrant study; and, the study that goes into them continues to reveal much fascinating information.  This post is dedicated to that topic of plant fertilization that sometimes can induce somnambulism in all but the most ardent botanists: strawberry pollination.  But, once you’ve reviewed this information, you’ll be ready to tackle hand pollination of strawberries or be better able to situate your strawberry bed in the most ideal location for growing gargantuan berries!

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Strawberry Plants Benefit from Fungus

strawberry plants benefit from fungusIf you mention fungal infections to strawberry farmers, you will likely watch as faces either go pasty white with fear or purple with rage.  Fungi can wipe out whole fields of strawberries leaving the farmers with nary an avenue of recourse but to treat and replant with a more hardy variety of strawberry.  With the phase out of methyl iodide (and the banning of other fumigants that were used to wipe out fungus spores) due to public concerns and possible health impacts, strawberry farmers are looking for other ways to control or eliminate losses due to pathogenic fungal infection.  Using coconut coir as a growth medium and anaerobic soil disinfestation both may be used more widely in the future.  Another option may become viable at a time yet future as well.

When most people think of companion planting, they think of planting synergistic plant species in proximity to one another to maximize the beneficial interactions.  But, as it turns out, the mycologists may have a new reason to celebrate.  While many people have been using mycorrhizal fungi for many years to grow large garden plants, strawberry farmers have often tried to completely eliminate all types of fungi from interacting with strawberry plants because of the aforementioned detrimental effects that many of the microorganisms inflict on Fragaria species.  The University of California has fired the first salvo in changing that preconceived notion, however.  A recent study has shown that certain entomopathogenic fungi can be used with strawberry plants to kill mites and other strawberry pests while leaving the strawberries unharmed.

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Strawberry Plants with Yellow Flowers

strawberry plants with yellow flowersFew things are more exciting to a green thumb than strolling about outside and discovering a native fruit-producing plant growing wild.  I’ve had several such occurrences in just the last few years.  I was as giddy as a kid in a candy shop a while back when I noticed a mulberry tree laden with dark, almost black fruit tempting me with its heavy branch hanging over my head and almost brushing my hair on a sidewalk in the middle of a suburban setting.  I guess no one ever thought to cut down the tree growing near the runoff drain, but I harvested as many fresh mulberries as I could before I had to leave the area.  I’ve often stumbled into wild blackberry thickets in my wanderings, and just last year I discovered four wild American persimmon trees not a mile from my dwelling place.

While blackberries are generally loved and known by everyone, mulberries are less known, and knowledge of persimmons is confined to a fairly small group within the general population.  Strawberries, however, are the A-List celebrities of the fruit world.  Virtually everyone loves them.  So, many people who find what they believe to be wild strawberries in their yard often ask me, “Why aren’t my wild strawberries with yellow flowers producing any strawberries?!”  Well, here’s why:

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Strawberry Serving?

strawberry serving sizeThis is a question submitted to Strawberry Plants .org by a reader. The information provided in response to the question may benefit others with the same or similar inquiries. Therefore, it has been added to the archive page of submitted questions. See the Strawberry FAQ for more questions, or use the search box at the top right of this page to search this site for information.

Q: How Many Strawberries in a Serving / Strawberry Serving Size?

On July 21, 2012, Sara Allister asked:

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How Tall Do Strawberry Plants Grow?

how tall do strawberry plants growThis is a question submitted to Strawberry Plants .org by a reader. The information provided in response to the question may benefit others with the same or similar inquiries. Therefore, it has been added to the archive page of submitted questions. See the Strawberry FAQ for more questions, or use the search box at the top right of this page to search this site for information.

Q: How Tall Do Strawberry Plants Grow?

On October 15, 2012, cheese asked:

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Wilting Strawberry Plants

wilting strawberry plantsMore and more people are growing their own strawberries as a hobby or as ornamentals or for production in their home gardens.  Few things are as frustrating as eagerly anticipating years of bountiful strawberry harvests and then watching the plants go from apparently healthy to wilted.  Wilting strawberry plants can make even the most stolid gardener attempt to forcibly remove his own follicles in a fit of perplexity.  This post is a review of what causes strawberries to wilt.

Sometimes wilting strawberries can be salvaged if the underlying cause is discovered and remedied.  Oftentimes, however, once the wilt sets in, there is little that can be done if it is caused by a pathogen.

For the sake of accuracy, it is good to distinguish between non-infectious wilting and blight.  Both look similar and can be easily confused, but they are actually different.  Blights can lead to wilting strawberry plants, but wilting is a symptom only.  Wilting is evidence of a problem, not necessarily a disease (blight).

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Nitrogen Deficiency in Strawberry Plants

strawberry plants with yellow leavesNitrogen deficiency in strawberry plants can cause rather significant problems for the longevity and vitality of strawberry patch.  If your soil is low in nitrogen, you can expect consequences.  This post will cover the basics of what to look for to determine whether or not your strawberries lack sufficient nitrogen-containing soil for optimal health and vigor.

What Indicates Nitrogen Deficiency in Strawberries?

In order to confirm nitrogen deficiency in strawberry plants, one ultimately must take a few tissue samples from affected leaflets that are “middle aged.”  The leaflets that must be sampled cannot be the old ones toward the bottom of the plant or the new, bright green ones emerging from the crown.

Once samples are collected, they must be tested for average composition.  The baseline measurement for nitrogen sufficiency is 2.6% to 2.8%.  Should the measured percent composition of nitrogen be below 2.6% for the tested sample, it is very likely that the soil is nitrogen deficient, resulting in less-than-acceptable levels of nitrogen in the foliage tissue of the strawberry plants.

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Strawberry Compound Fisetin Could Help Diabetics

strawberry compound fisetin could help diabeticsNew research is being done that could merge forever the delightful and humble strawberry with the diets of individuals beset by diabetes.  Studies are being done on mice at the Salk Institute which are examining the effects of fisetin, a naturally-occuring flavonoid in strawberries, on diabetes and other conditions.  Investigators at the Salk Institute’s Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory (CNL) are discovering that this compound can protect the organs most commonly damaged by diabetes.  Additionally, early data show that neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s might also be positively affected by fisetin.

For the entire story, see this article.  To learn more about the amazing strawberry plant, simply search this site for the specific area that interests you (here’s how).  There are quite a few Medicinal Uses of the Strawberry Plant, many useful Compounds in Strawberry Plants, and promising evidence that strawberries may help prevent cancer.  It is no wonder that the strawberry compound fisetin could help diabetics!

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Strawberry Plant Genome Sequenced

strawberry plant genome sequencedStrawberry plants have now joined an elite group of plants that include grapes, rice, and soy.  What do these plants have in common?  They have all had their genome completely mapped. The strawberry species that has been sequenced is Fragaria vesca, the woodland strawberry (also known as the Alpine Strawberry, one of the “wild” strawberry varieties).  The strawberry plant genome is what determines the life cycle of the strawberry plant, how many strawberries it will produce, and everything else about it.  It is the life code that is passed from generation to generation of strawberries through either the strawberry runners or the strawberry seeds.

With the Strawberry Plant Genome Sequenced…

With the strawberry plant genome sequenced in a collaborative effort involving 75 researchers from 38 research institutes, new research is expected to yield breakthroughs in multiple areas.  Through more detailed study of strawberry genetics, it is hoped that the metabolic pathways of ripening will now be better understood.  Also, enzymatic activity in the production of aromatic compounds in strawberries and other related species will be better understood.

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Healthy Strawberry Plants, No Strawberries

healthy strawberry plants no strawberriesPeople love strawberries.  Gardeners who are new to growing strawberries often start out with dreams of bushels of berries and end up with virtually no harvest at all.  One of the common causes of this undesirable phenomenon is overzealous fertilization by well-intentioned budding horticulturalists!

Don’t Over-Fertilize Healthy Strawberry Plants

When strawberry plants have access to seemingly unlimited resources, they tend to get fat and happy.  Just like a 500 pound behemoth of a sloth who has millions of calories within reach of his armchair won’t go out of his way to be productive, strawberry plants who sit in an environment saturated with high concentrations nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus think good times are here to stay.  So, they don’t produce much of harvest.  They will devote their production to vegetative output.  While it is true that strawberry plants have many medicinal uses and useful compounds, most people would prefer the simple delight of the strawberries themselves.

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