This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
Quite a number of strawberry growers have expressed incredulous opinions of the practicability of this plan, to which we reply that in every case that has come under our notice, it has been a complete success. Indeed, one gentleman in Central New York stated last fall to us that he had practiced it uniformly for eight years, and had never been obliged to reset his plants or renew his bed; while the luxuriance of his plants, and size and quality of his berries were matters of great notoriety in his own neighborhood. The propriety of cutting off all the old and exhausted stems, leaves, etc., after fruiting, will not be questioned, we think, by any one. We would only add, by way of caution, that wherever the plants are thus mown, and tops cut off, it is imperatively necessary to protect the crown with some mulch, until it shoots out a sufficient quantity of fresh green leaves to enable it to take care of itself. The following letter, confirmatory of our ideas, was written recently by Ira Smith, of Peoria, Illinois, to the Farmers' Club, New York City:
"Observing frequent inquiries made of the Farmers' Club regarding the propriety of mowing strawberry plants after fruiting, and that the members have been rather shy in giving an opinion, I offer the following experience of my own : About ten years ago, noticing, as had frequently occurred before, that after fruiting, the weather being hot and dry, many of my plants apparently fresh and healthy in the morning, would lie flat on the ground, withered, and seemingly nearly dead at night, as though something had severed the roots and cut off the supply of moisture. This being often repeated for a month, half of the plants would sometimes be dead, and the rest greatly injured. All strawberry growers have witnessed the same. It is called here sun scalded. On examination I found the roots whole, sound, and in good order, except as dry as a chip. The following hypothesis was then suggested to my mind as the probable cause : after putting forth their utmost strength in the production of a bountiful yield, the plant now, like all else of animated nature, including man, and, from accounts, divinity itself, requires a season of rest, and cannot at once replace the exhausted energy of the rootlets so as to gather in sufficient moisture to meet the excessive demand for evaporation from the leaves.
The roots thereby being sucked dry, death necessarily follows from starvation. The remedy, then, must be in removing the demand for evaporation. The test was made by mowing a portion of the patch close down, and was attended with perfect success. Since then my practice has been, after fruiting, to mow them close to the ground, and if the weather is hot and dry, scatter the leaves evenly over the beds, and after thanking them for their nice acid fruits, bid them rest in peace until August and September showers come with their life-restoring influences. Under this treatment I never lose a plant, however hot the weather may be. After August rains they recommence to grow, putting out no new runners, but covering the ground with large, dark, thrifty foliage, and the largest and freshest new crowns for the next year's crop, and never fail in giving a first-class yield for the season,"