You should grow alpine strawberries

Hello everyone,
I just wanted to make a quick post on alpine strawberries because I think they deserve more recognition. The variety I have pictured below are pineapple crush, the seeds are originally from strawberryseedstore.com. Mike the owner has improved and maintained the variety for many years and from how he talks about them, they seem to be his favorite variety overall.

Pros:

  • The first fruit I get to start picking in spring, before red strawberries by a couple of days (and these are in shade, whereas my reds are in full sun, so likely would be even earlier otherwise)
  • Truly day neutral, its hard to see in the picture but there are all stages of strawberry development going on. They are the first fruit of the season and the last fruit of the season. Amazing!
  • Shade tolerant, Mike specifically says this variety is particularly shade tolerant and my experience with them agrees. They only get sun from about 12-3:30 each day and they still produce abundantly.
  • Productive, granted not as productive as red strawberries in terms of weight, but for such small plants, they really pump out berries. You can only see a small fraction of the berries being produced on each plant in the photo
  • Taste, obviously very subjective and while I prefer a perfectly ripe modern red strawberry to an alpine its not by much.
  • Pest resistance, I have yet to have any insect problems on even a single berry whereas my reds are constantly under attack by ants, woodlouse etc
  • Mold resistance, as you can see in the picture, just about all of the berries are displayed upwards hanging in the air. While sometimes the berries can way down the plant a little and a berry or two will touch the soil and mold, the vast majority don’t. Throw a little mulch down and none of the berries will.
  • Animal resistance, last year I did not have any netting up and I’d say I only lost 10-15% of the berries to birds. The white cultivars like pineapple crush just don’t attract animals very much. My red strawberries on the other hand are animal/bird magnets.
  • This one is a +/- depending on how you look at it, this variety is runnerless but grow true to seed. This is only my second year with them but many berries must have gone unpicked because there are huge numbers of seedlings that self sowed after this previous winter. In addition, these strawberries grow by clumping and you can divide the clumps into individual plants if you want to increase your # of mature plants. There are also white varieties that produce runners if you prefer them but I can’t speak to their productivity or shade tolerance.

Cons:

  • Shelf life isn’t great. I can’t tell you exactly how long you can keep them in the fridge for because my family reliably eats them all before they spoil
  • Very mild musky aftertaste. Some family members note a very very slightly musky aftertaste in berries that are not perfectly ripe. That being said, even the family members that can taste the muskiness don’t mind it at all and still chomp down on them
  • Ripening. The berries turn white before perfectly ripe. It takes a while to reliably be able to identify when they’re ripe. Some signs they’re ripe: the seeds go from a slight green shade to a slight brown shade, the flesh goes from white with a tiny bit of a green shade → Totally white → white with a tiny shade of yellow/brown (perfect), and finally they fall off the plant with the slightest pressure.
  • Berries are small, about the size of a thumb nail, but they make up for it by pumping out 100’s of berries

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Alpine strawberry are also red. I think there are white and red varieties of both varieties. Most of my fruit is not ruined by birds but is taken by squirrels. When my strawberry start to get ripe I see squirrels eating a raspberry in my yard nearly every time I go out.

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I tried growing alpine strawberries under netting to protect them from rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels, and birds but the rabbits chewed big holes in the netting and the chipmunks managed to get under the netting. So I now have no strawberries. I did put up rabbit fencing which kept them ouit but not the other critters.

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I have just kind of accepted that I have to pick fruit unripe. Even a partly ripened home plant fruit is better than store bought. Specifically fruits grown in my Colorado climate will taste far superior to store grown fruit as well. Even my slightly unripe fruit will make grocery market fruit taste horrible in comparison. I have thought about protecting with organsma bags though. I do hear those work.

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Do you grow red or white ones? I personally grow the white ones because I like that they have a sour almost pineapple like tone to the flavor and they’re seemingly less attractive to animals.

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It sounds like @elivings1 is having problems too. Did you grow white ones or red ones?

Right now I only have red ones going on. That being said I have started white ones. There are white regular ones called pineberry

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Please update us on the pineberries. I know they’re pretty distinct from alpines but I’ve read they also contain a hint of pineapple.

I’m very interested in these. squirrels tore up my entire strawberry patch this year, all berries were eaten and lots of digging (I know it’s squirrels, we are at war this year and I caught them at it)

If these are less attractive to them I might give them a go. when did you get them in the ground?

Last year I put them in the ground in May. If you purchase starter plants you could do a Fall planting and they should overwinter fine. The link below has them. I’ve purchased from this nursery before and they sell very high quality plants but can be on the pricy side. You may be able to buy seeds and get some starter plants going by fall but strawberry seeds are extremely small so it takes a while to get them to a decent size.

https://backyardberryplants.com/product-category/strawberry-plants/alpine-and-day-neutral-strawberry-plants/

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i got some of my seeds from rareseeds.com and the strawberrystore.com most of mine were started indoors in march and put out in june. i have red and white ones. my oldest ones are 4 yrs old and 18in across. i give them mulch and chic manure and they pump out berries like crazy. kids love to pick them as they’re kid sized. my 2 .5 yr old niece knows how to find them on her own now. she loves them. they make the best jam/pie also. they are so productive its hard to pick all the berries.

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I’ve had them for several years now and love them. Only problem is, they don’t produce in the heat of summer and sometimes I don’t even get a fall harvest because the plants haven’t recovered from summer. In the Philly area.

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mine are in full production now. nice berries as we had had a cool summer so far. only hitting 80 a few times.

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Mine have been producing berries continuously since about May 28th. We had several days in the upper 90s here and they didn’t stop for me. That being said like I mentioned in my post, they’re pretty shaded so maybe thats what allowed them to continue producing.

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Good chance of this. I’ve been moving them around and even in (2nd half of day) shade, same results.

the ones in more shade under trees produced more and bigger fruit. opposites of other types of straws.

Very interesting, I haven’t been growing in full sun so I didn’t know that.
I know you mentioned before you grow several white/red cultivars of alpines. Do you notice a musky aftertaste in some but not others?

I wonder if there is something about white fruit that makes it small but abundant. I have Snowbank blackberries and each bush has hundreds of fruit, all small. I cut one way back this year to see how the size would improve with fewer fruit and they are negligibly larger.

At least in the case of these strawberries, the answer is no. All alpines are small, the red and white ones don’t really have a size difference.

There are pineberries which are essentially white “modern” strawberries but in reality they haven’t undergone nearly as much breeding and selection for size as their red cousins.

I’d imagine for white blackberries, they found a blackberry plant with the mutation that lead it to become white and then figured that would be enough of a selection difference in and of itself to be sold well by those interested. So they selected for white, not for size.

no . only sweet. pineapple crush has a slight taste of pineapple. one of my faves! some berries 1 1/2in. and 3/4in. wide. very productive. as i pick them i dump them onto a sheet pan to freeze, then into a ziplock.