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What Causes Mushy Strawberries?

Updated on November 21, 2017
TheListLady profile image

TheListLady is a pedagogue by profession and freelance writer from New York City who loves making lists.

How to Avoid Mushy Strawberries

Strawberries are among the fruits most often grown in home gardens. Providing general care like full sun, well-drained soil, organic matter, and a weekly inch of water produces the greatest and healthiest yield. Preventive care should also be practiced. It's important to know what to do but also what not to do when cultivating strawberries. Additionally, when you shop for strawberries, inspect your fruit carefully and know the signs of diseased fruit.

Tips for Growing Strawberries on Your Own

Be Careful Where You Plant

Verticillium wilt is a serious fungal disease of the soil which occurs if strawberries are planted near other plants known to harbor the disease. Common plants that harbor the disease include eggplants, potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers.

Verticillium wilt infestation.
Verticillium wilt infestation. | Source

Fruit Rot

Strawberry gray mold is caused by the Botrytis cinerea fungus and is the most serious and common form of strawberry fruit rot. The disease can reduce your yield by 50 percent or more. The mold flourishes during long periods of rain and overcast conditions during bloom time and harvest. Strawberry infections generally appear on the fruit as a light-brown patch that quickly enlarges and decays. With moist conditions, the fluffy fungal growth is visible on the infected tissue. The gray-brown color gives the disease its name.

Prevention Tips: Better air flow and improved sunlight penetration will help reduce the possibility of gray mold. This is readily achieved by thinning out the strawberry beds. During the winter, dead leaves and debris should be removed from the beds to reduce possible sources of fungus.

Do Not Use Black Plastic for Weed Control

Anthracnose fruit rot (caused by Colletotrichum acutatum), is a destructive disease affecting California cultivars if they grow on black plastic. The practice, most destructive during warm weather, can cause between 60 to 75 percent of fruit loss. Anthracnose fruit rot appears on green strawberries and ranges in appearance from soft to firm brown or black spots. On ripe fruit, the disease appears as purple spots and enlarges quickly until the whole strawberry rots. Pink lesions on the surface can turn to masses of orange spores. Spores are dispersed to other fruit in splashing water. You may think this is a convenient way to prevent weeds but it should be entirely avoided.

Rhizopus stolonifer on a strawberry.
Rhizopus stolonifer on a strawberry. | Source

Carefully Select Commercially Grown Strawberries

Leak (Rhizopus nigricans) was once a common and destructive form of fruit rot occurring after harvest. Commercial strawberries are now refrigerated during shipping which helps prevent the problem. Fruit rot shows no changes at first, with the fruit remaining the same color. Later, the affected sections turn light brown and the strawberry becomes soft and watery. The strawberry then collapses and leaks fluid, which is why the disease is called leak. Rotten strawberries, especially those that are packaged, will soon become covered with a white, cottony fungus and black spore-producing structures. The fungus will only enter ripe fruit through a wound. If you see this white, cottony fungus when shopping for strawberries, don't think it's enough to bring them home and wash them.

Avoid Eating Tough Strawberries

Leather Rot (Phytophthora cactorum) happens occasionally on both green fruit and ripe fruit. Rotten strawberries will be light brown in the middle and have shades of purple on the edges. Late stages of decay will make the fruit leathery and tough. Sometimes, you cannot tell the purchased fruit is diseased until you take a bite.

When all goes well, there is nothing like a perfect strawberry!



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    • profile image

      Anne Whittick 2 years ago

      Our allotment strawberrys go to mush within a couple of hours of being picked.

    • TheListLady profile image

      TheListLady 4 years ago from New York City

      You're welcome rebeccamealey! I wish I had some homegrown strawberries right now! What's on the market is just awful. Soon - very soon I hope I can have another garden patch. I need real food.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      I love homegrown strawberries. When I was growing up we had the coolest strawberry patch ever with huge berries! Thanks for these great tips!

    • carcro profile image

      Paul Cronin 6 years ago from Winnipeg

      Thanks TheListLady for this great info on strawberries, we tried growing them a few years ago but didn't have much success, so we continue to buy them at the store. But we never know when they are good or bad. They look good in the store, but sometimes you bite them and Yeeechhhh!

    • JT Walters profile image

      JT Walters 6 years ago from Florida

      Hi TheListLady,

      I have always wondered why strawberries were so mushy and had green gray mold. Now I know. I like this hub as I have always aspired to grow starwberries but never had much luck in the area I live in Florida.

      Great Hub.


    • CountryCityWoman profile image

      CountryCityWoman 6 years ago from From New York City to North Carolina

      Great info. So often using black plastic is recommended to control weeds - but I can see that it would block air and overheat the ground. No good.

      Thanks for a great hub. Rated up!

    • profile image

       6 years ago

      Lately markets have started packing strawberries in clear containers. Previously it was dark colored containers and you could not see if the fruit was fuzzy until you opened the container - ugh!

      Good hub and thanks - rated up!

    • anglnwu profile image

      anglnwu 6 years ago

      Great information. I didn't know much about this subject until now. Rated up.

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

      I love gardening and this was useful information for us. My uncle has strawberries garden in his back yard, it looks beautiful when the fruit appear, it looks contrast with the leaves. Red and green....wonderful. Thanks for writing this. Vote it up!


    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      You know I often see awful strawberries in the market. Ugh. And sometimes you buy them in the carton and they look fine but you get home and unpack and there is that white fuzz- ugh - diseased strawberries. Really time to grow your own. I grew some years ago and the super taste cannot be compared to this commercial fruit.

      Nice hub- thanks and rated up!