At Strawberries on 903, we use the “Southeastern Plasticulture Method.” Plants are set out into black plastic mulch in the fall of the year. Irrigation and some fertilization are supplied through drip tape laid under the plastic at the time of planting. The plants continue to grow during warmer periods over the fall and winter. In late winter and early spring they start to grow in earnest. We protect the early flowers from late frosts (March-April) with overhead irrigation at night. We also use row covers, which are blankets of thin, translucent spun-bonded polyester, to protect the plants in cold weather. Though strawberries are perennial, plasticulture strawberries are grown as annuals, with harvest only 7-8 months after planting and new plants set out every year.
Southeastern Plasticulture was first developed by NC growers and NC State University researchers in the mid-1980s, adapting aspects of Florida and California production methods to the Carolina climate. This method has now spread to neighboring states and is being adapted to colder areas. North Carolina is recognized as a leader in plasticulture research and information.