Because strawberry varieties are extremely sensitive to local conditions, a variety that performs well in one location may do poorly in another area. Varieties that perform satisfactorily in northern Pennsylvania might fail miserably in the southern portion. Because of these differences in variety performance, gardeners are strongly advised to experiment with a number of varieties. Varieties with resistance to red stele and verticillium wilt are highly recommended.
The strawberry most commonly grown in Pennsylvania is the June-bearing strawberry. June bearers are the type most often grown by commercial growers, and are the result of decades of breeding for productivity, size, and other attributes. These varieties are rated as early, midseason, or late according to when they bear (Table 8.1). The early varieties may be more subject to frost injury because they bloom earlier, and the opened blossom is the stage of fruit development most susceptible to frost injury. Strawberry varieties all ripen about 30 days after bloom.
Day-neutral strawberry varieties bear throughout the growing season. They are highly productive and have very flavorful berries. Day-neutral plants have three peaks of production each year: one in June, one in midsummer, and one from late August through frost. Day-neutral strawberries have been grown successfully in commercial plantings in Pennsylvania; however, the summer crop often is very small due to high temperatures. The high-temperature effects can be ameliorated by a heavy straw mulch to keep soil temperatures low; however, even with this precaution, day-neutral varieties may not perform well in the southern half of Pennsylvania. Cultural practices for these berries differ from those of June bearers; some of these differences are outlined in subsequent sections of this publication.
These varieties bear two crops during the year and generally are not as high in quality or as productive as the day-neutral types. For this reason, we recommend that you plant the day-neutral types rather than the everbearers if continuous cropping is desired. Descriptions in nursery catalogs often refer to day-neutral varieties as everbearers, however, so making this distinction can be difficult. All of the day-neutral varieties discussed in the chapter are true day-neutrals.