Gordon Johnson, Extension Vegetable & Fruit Specialist; firstname.lastname@example.org
Strawberry harvest is underway in the region and a common observation, especially with the earliest berries, is that there is a significant amount of deformed or misshapen berries. The most common cause of these deformities or odd shapes is weather issues during pollination. This year, low temperature damage was likely to flowers, even under row covers. Cold affected berries will have blunted tips or may appear folded. Conversely, high temperatures and drying winds can dry out some of the stigmas in strawberry flowers, especially in the center of the flower causing doughnut shaped berries. Boron deficiencies can also cause deformed berries, so can damage from spray materials – anything that affects pollination and seed development. Tarnished plant bugs can also feed on strawberry seeds and therefore cause odd shapes to develop. Growers new to the plasticulture system may also note that berries have odd shapes, especially in the large primary berries. This is most often just a characteristic of the variety. Some of these varieties produce fasciated berries that look like cockscombs.