Strawberries are actually a member of the rose family. The practice of mulching these berries with hay earned this fruit its name. The average American eats 3.4 lb. fresh strawberries annually, according to the University of Illinois Extension. Traditionally thought of as an early summer fruit, the growing season may be extended by planting more than one variety so this berry can be picked through early fall in most areas.
June-bearing strawberries are so named because they produce fruit from mid-May through mid-June. The plants will flower beginning in early to mid-May. Crops are usually produced the second year after planting. June-bearing strawberries have early, midseason and late varieties of berries. June-bearing varieties produce larger fruit and heavier yields that than of other types. They may be grown in flat rows or hilly rows. Plants should be spaced around 1 foot apart with two or three plants being placed side by side. Leave 2 feet between each row of plants if grown in hilly rows or 3 to 4 feet apart if grown in flat rows. June-bearing strawberries are good for freezing, fresh eating, jams and jellies. Honeoye, Sumas and Pinnacle are early producers. Tillamook, Totem and Benton are midseason June bearers. Late season June-bearing strawberries include Redcrest, Independence and Firecracker.
Everbearing strawberries produce fruit during three seasons. They will flower and then fruit in the spring, summer and fall, offering three distinct harvest periods. The spring and fall harvests produce the largest amount of fruit, with only a moderate amount available for picking during the summer months. Overall, everbearing strawberries will produce slightly less fruit than June-bearing strawberries, due in large part to the fact that these plants have fewer runners. Everbearing strawberries may be grown in raised beds or containers. These plants should be placed 12 to 15 inches apart, with 2 to 3 feet between rows when planting in raised beds, or no more than two to three plants to a 12-to-15-inch hanging basket. Everbearing strawberries are well-suited for fresh eating or canning. A few common varieties of everbearing strawberries include Ozark Beauty, Ft. Laramie, Rockhill and Gem.
Day-neutral stawberries are a newer variety that was introduced during the 1960's by the University of California. Day neutral strawberries are often confused with everbearing strawberries. The primary difference is that day-neutral strawberies produce two distinct crops rather than three. These plants flower and bear fruit unless temperatures reach above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. For this reason, day-neutral strawberries are better suited to northern environments. These strawberries should be planted on raised hills or in raised beds. Each plant should be 12 to 15 inches apart, leaving around 3 to 4 feet between each row. The vines have fewer runners than June-bearing or everbearing types, so fewer berries are harvested at one time. Day-neutral strawberries are ideal for fresh eating. Albion, Tristar, Tribute and Seascape are a few varieties of day-neutral strawberries.