Strawberries (Fragaria spp.) come in three types: ever-bearing, June-bearing and day-neutral. All strawberries are perennials, so they come back every year to produce fruit although strawberry plants should be replaced after three or four years to maintain high fruit production. Grown in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 3 through 9, the first strawberry harvest depends on the season, type of strawberry and the region in which it is grown.
These herbaceous, low-growing plants develop from a single crown that emerges from the soil line. While all strawberry types offer the same growth habit, each type has distinct differences. All strawberry types require removal of their blossoms during their first year of growth. This promotes healthy development of the root system and runners, which also ensures larger fruit the following season.
- Ever-bearing varieties produce three crops
of strawberries, one in spring, summer and fall, with the smallest crop produced during summer. These type of strawberries produce few runners. During the first year of growth, remove all the blossoms until the first of June and then allow the blossoms to develop for harvesting a crop during late summer and fall.
- June-bearing varieties include early, mid-season and late types, with all producing runners. They produce one big crop yearly throughout a three week period during spring. During the first year of growth, all flowers should be removed until the second season of growth.
- **Day-neutral** varieties continue to flower and produce throughout the growing season and as long as the conditions are favorable. The plant produces few runners. Like ever-bearing types, all blossoms should be removed until June during the first season of growth. After June, allow the flowers to remain for the production of a late summer and fall crop.
When to Expect the first Strawberry Harvest
In zones 6 and further north, plant strawberries in the spring to give them time to get established before winter. In zones 7 and further south, plant strawberries in the fall, by Sept. 1, to get spring fruit.
Spring-planted June-bearing strawberries will produce the first fruit the following spring, one year from planting. June-bearing strawberries that are planted in the fall produce the first harvest the next spring.
Day-neutral strawberries continuously produce buds, blooms and fruit while the temperature stays within 35 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Fall-planted day-neutral varieties will produce the first fruit the following spring, while spring-planted strawberries will start producing blooms as soon as they are planted, if conditions are right.
Ever-bearing varieties produce buds for spring during the previous autumn and produce buds for fall blooms during the summer. Ever-bearing varieties planted in the fall will produce the first blooms the following spring. Spring-planted ever-bearing varieties will start producing buds after they are planted.