The Q&A Archives: Growing Strawberries In Far Sw Arizona

Question: I would like to grow June bearing strawberries in Yuma AZ. It gets to 120 degrees in the summer and very few very light frosts in the Winter. What varieties do you suggest and when should we plant? We are not here duting June thru Oct. 15. Since our climate is so mild would our strawberries ripen in April or May before we leave for the Summer? We would provide shade screening and drip irrigation while we are gone. Would it be appropriate to set out the plants in Oct. to avoid the extreme heat of the summer during the plants first year?

Answer: For varieties, Chandler and Camarosa did well in a University of AZ Cooperative Extension trial conducted in the Phoenix area. Camarosa had bigger fruit; Chandler had sweeter fruit, but they bruised more easily. October has been the traditional planting month for berries in the low desert, as they have time to develop root systems and foliage before the heat of summer. In this particular trial, they also planted in late August, and found that those plants actually bore more fruit than the October plantings, probably because they had more time to develop root systems. Berries were harvested from mid-March to mid-May. The plants grew well during the summer, but produced many runners, and the flavor and sugar quantity of fruit in the 2nd year was not as high. The fruit was also more difficult to harvest because of the great amounts of foliage. In the home garden, the researchers recommended removing the runners to start them in a second bed. Other varieties that perform in the low desert are Tioga and Sequoia. I would also recommend mulching your plants over the summer and have somebody check to make sure the drip system is functioning, as the plants would quickly die without water. Good luck!

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