Successful Strawberry Planting
Most of the Florida strawberry industry uses bareroot transplants that have green tops which mean the leaves are left on. It is important to plant the bareroot plant quickly and to treat it well while planting. This means do not let it get hot, do not let it lay on the hot plastic bed for more than a few seconds, do not leave in black plastic bags in the sun and turn on the sprinkler system in a short amount of time after planting. The hotter and sunnier the day the shorter the amount of time before turning on the water! Even though the transplant has roots they are not functioning so you are having to treat the plant like it is a cutting. The primary goal is to keep the leaves alive till new roots form so the leaves need to be kept moist and not get too hot.
Another thing that is critical is the planting depth of the transplant. For good growth it is very important to set at the correct depth. If you set the transplant too high with the roots barely in the plant hole the plant will fall over and lay on the hot plastic and delay growth. If too deep then growth is stunted as the soil in the bud of the plant seems to greatly delay growth and early yields are greatly reduced. Sometimes the plant will die as root pathogens get in the bud of the plant and kill the growing tissue. So the best way to give your strawberry plant a good start for the season is to be sure it is planted at the correct depth! Also when you set the plants do not bend the roots in a “J” shape and have the ends of the roots sticking up out of the planting hole. That will make it harder for the plant to establish a root system and grow off quickly and slow down getting berries. Once you have the root system in the planting hole at the correct depth then be sure to press the soil firmly around the roots.
The main points to successful planting of strawberry transplants is to keep the transplants cool as you are working in the field, plant at the correct depth and firm the soil around the roots, and then to turn the overhead water on before the leaves get hot from the hot plastic. The water will need to run 10-14 days till a new root system is established to support the top of the plant.