Wondering when to plant strawberries in Alabama? That’s exactly what we’re going to tell you here.
Strawberries are one of the simplest plants to grow, and your efforts will be rewarded with tasty fruit in the early summer or late spring. You can eat the fruit frozen, right after picking it or made into jams.
You can grow this low-growing plant in zones 2 to 11 and can be grown in the ground or planted in pots. Early varieties of strawberries do better in Alabama’s humid summers as they are liable to mold and mildew.
That said, the best time to plant strawberries in Alabama is in the fall, more on that below.
When to Plant Strawberries in Alabama
The fall is a perfect time to plant strawberries in Alabama. This is because strawberries grown in the fall will have higher produce the following season. I often use strawberries in summer dishes – so a high yield is always preferable.
Read Also: How to Grow Spinach in Pots
Various studies has shown that strawberries planted during the month of September and October also have a higher yield the next year than strawberries grown during the spring months.
Planting certified disease-free strawberries will help to resist diseases, such as leaf spots and anthracnose, which are common in humid and hot regions.
It’s also worth mentioning that strawberries are an early-season crop in Alabama. It brings consumers to fruit stands or farmer markets early in the year between the month of April and May.
Most growers harvests for a 6-week period. The ripening season is also different for different counties of the state.
Generally, the further south you are in the state, the earlier the strawberries will ripen. In fact, the harvest starts in late December around Christmas in Florida.
Types of Strawberries Grown in Alabama
Strawberry plants come in different types:
- June bearing
- Spring bearing
In Alabama, the June bearing strawberry plants thrive the most. Established through October, June bearing strawberry plants produce the flowers and stem throughout the winter and during the cool weather of late fall.
Additionally, as their names suggest, June-bearers, produce fruit in the month of June. They bear one large crop of fruit, over 2-3 weeks, each growing season.
Essentially, because of this, gardeners plant at least one early cultivar, one midseason cultivar, and one late-season to cover the harvest season.
The recommended varieties of strawberries and their blossom times in Alabama are:
- Douglas (very early season)
- Chandler (early season)
- Sunrise (early season)
- Earliglow (early season)
- Cardinal (early season)
- Earlibelle (early midseason)
- Allstar (midseason)
- Albritton (late midseason)
- Delite (very late season)
You can find a variety of strawberry to plant at a local nursery. According to the University of Alabama Cooperative Extension, the two good varieties of strawberries for Alabama are “Earliglow” and “Cardinal.”
Inquire at the nursery for further suggestions.
Strawberry Production in Alabama
Strawberries may not be a great business in Alabama, but it is certainly a pleasant one. According to an Alabama Extension regional commercial horticulture agent (Doug Chapman):
And according to Kevin Burkett, Alabama Extension regional agent:
Burkett further stated that:
Furthermore, most strawberries grown in Alabama are sold directly from the producer to the consumer, according to Dr. Edgar Vinson, Alabama Extension commercial horticulture specialist.
“Alabama strawberries are often sold at farmers' markets, roadside stands, and right off the farm by the producers. Some of the farmers also have a U-pick system to sell their strawberries. This adds an outstanding quality to Alabama grown strawberries,” said Vinson.
That’s not all, according to Chapman:
“Looking at the land allotted to strawberry production in Alabama, strawberry acreage would not be more than 200 acres statewide. But looking at a bigger state such as Florida, in Hillsborough and Polk regions in Central Florida, they grow to nearly 25,000 acres only in those regions.”
Alabama’s production is still vital to Alabama residents, even though it cannot compete with bigger producing states.
How to Grow Strawberries in Alabama
Now that we’ve discussed when to plant strawberries in Alabama, let’s quickly talk about how to grow strawberries in Alabama.
Follow the steps below:
1. Choose strawberry plant
Pick strawberry plants from a reliable source. Like I said earlier, Earliglow and Cardinal are the two varieties of strawberries that grow well in Alabama’s humid climate.
2. Choose a good location
Now, choose a good planting location in your garden. It should be somewhere that receives at least 6-hours of sun daily.
Again, as I said before, strawberries are planted in the month of September or October in Alabama for harvesting the next year.
3. Loosen the soil
Use a shovel to loosen the garden soil to a 12 inches depth and adjust with compost to enhance drainage.
NOTE: Strawberries thrive better in well-drained soil. It’s also advisable to sprinkle a “10-10-10 fertilizer” on the ground and work in well. Then rake smooth.
4. Dig a deep hole
Dig a hole that is deep enough to retain the strawberry roots. The crown of the plant should be above the soil line.
Then plant your strawberries crop in rows 12 to 18 inches away from each other. This is because they will eventually develop runners that will yield new plants.
5. Water very well
Water the soil thoroughly to collapse any air pockets in it, and spread an organic mulch (like pine bark or straw) around the plants to prevent the berries from touching the soil.
6. Water and Fertilize
In late summer, fertilize with a 10-10-10 fertilizer and water thoroughly to make sure that the nutrients to the strawberry roots.
7. Other steps
Use mulch to cover your strawberries in the fall before the first expected frost to guard the plants against the harmful cold.
Check often for snails and slugs, which often feed on newly ripe fruit. Use a slug and snail bait or just handpick to remove them.
There you have it all. I hope by now, you already know the best types of strawberries that bloom in Alabama, when to plant strawberries in Alabama, and how to grow strawberries in Alabama.
NOTE: Each strawberry plant can yield for 2-3 years. Then the daughters become the mother plant. The flowers can be pinched the first year from the mother plant to boost plant production the next year.
Strawberries should be mulched, not just to help maintain moisture and soil temperature, but to also help keep the fruit clean and prevent fruit rot. Traditionally, straw is used to mulch strawberry beds; however, you can also use other mulches, such as pine straw.
Whether used in savory or sweet dishes, there is absolutely nothing like a strawberry gotten straight from the vine.