Davis: Learn about growing strawberries at Thursday workshop

For the last couple of years, I have been growing strawberries on a small scale in an annual production system utilizing plastic mulch. I have had the opportunity to learn a lot of lessons.

We will get to showcase the annual strawberry production system using black plastic mulch at our upcoming field day at 4 p.m. Thursday, at 3070 Ecton Road, which is the farm of Kirk and Karen Fallis. I hope you will be able to join us.

With the current agriculture economy, it is evident farms with a diverse selection of crops are much better off. It is great to have multiple production areas on the farm just in case one area doesn’t fare well in any given year.

So much can impact farm production income ranging from market prices to the weather. Strawberry production is just one more option some Clark County farmers have. However, strawberries are not for everyone.

Strawberries are a labor-intensive crop. They can be grown in a matted row system in which they are carried over from one year to the next for two to five years of production, or they can be grown using black plastic mulch in an annual production system. Each system has its advantages and disadvantages.

Personally, I prefer the plastic mulch system because it works better with my small-scale vegetable operation.

I can incorporate strawberries into the crop rotation throughout my fields. They provide early season income to start the vegetable growing season, and then when finished, I can take them out and follow them up with another late crop like sweet corn, green beans or pumpkins.

Growing them as an annual crop also helps me minimize disease and soil fertility issues.

The drip irrigation installed with the plastic mulch gives me more ability to irrigate and fertilize the crop when needed.

Plastic mulch also gives an earlier harvest advantage over matted row and allows me to get better prices at the farmers’ market for my berries.

For me, growing strawberries on plastic mulch just makes the most sense. I hope you will come to the field day if you have ever had any interest in growing strawberries to see if you like this system.

At the upcoming field day, participants will get to see annual strawberry production. We will discuss the concerns, and all the steps of producing strawberries with this system.

Kentucky extension specialists and I will be covering topics ranging from an overview of growing strawberries on plastic mulch to disease control and winter frost protection. Pre-registration is not required, but if you would like more information or directions, contact the Clark County Extension Service by calling 859-744-4682.

David Davis is a Clark County Cooperative Extension Service agent for for agriculture and natural resources.