There are many differences between June-bearing and everbearing strawberries. In addition to being different in berry size, fruit yield and fruit quality, one type tends to be sweeter while the other is more suitable for freezing or canning. If you're thinking about growing strawberries in your garden, take into consideration of when and how you would like to use the fruit as well as your space limitations.
In general, June-bearing and everbearing strawberry plants are fairly indistinguishable. Their leaves are the same size and shape, as are their stems and runners. The two plants resemble each other most when they're young, before they have produced a significant crop of fruit. Once June-bearing plants have produced fruit, they begin to spread out and produce new plants. So, strawberry patches that undergo notable growth later in the season are identifiable as June-bearing strawberry plants.
June-bearing strawberry plants produce more fruit during their comparatively short crop-production time frame, so you can use fruit yield to distinguish between June-bearing and everbearing plants. Also, as the name suggests, June-bearing plants produce fruit once per year -- in late spring or early summer. Fruit production may not necessarily occur in June, as differences among growing zones may accelerate or delay the onset of fruit. When and how the plants are planted and cared for also play a part in when June-bearing strawberries will appear and ripen.
Everbearing strawberries produce smaller amounts of fruit, but do so more frequently. It's not uncommon for everbearing plants to produce ripe fruit in the spring, summer and fall. Everbearing berries are sometimes called day-neutral strawberries, although the term “day-neutral” may also apply to a variety of strawberry plant that produces fruit fairly consistently -- rather than three distinct times -- throughout the growing season.
June-bearing plants grow fastest after their fruit ripens. When they no longer need to divert energy to growing berries, they spend the rest of the growing season producing runners and spreading. The runners consist of leaflets on long stems, which quickly put down new roots to produce new plants. Everbearing strawberries, which divert more energy into fruit production, have less energy to spend on growth. Consequently, they will still produce some runners during the growing season, but they will not produce as many or spread as prolifically as June-bearing plants.
Fruit Flavor and Freezing Quality
There are many cultivars of both strawberry types, and each has unique berry traits. The Tristar and Tribute everbearing cultivars, for example, produce smaller berries which are of only fair dessert quality but are generally considered good for freezing. The generally larger berries of June-bearing plants mostly range from good to very good in dessert quality. Many June-bearing strawberries, such as the Guardian and Kent cultivars, are high in flavor but do not retain their dessert quality when frozen. The Earliglow cultivar is distinctive among June-bearing strawberries in that it has very good dessert quality and freezing quality.