Strawberries will stay half white and not ripen fully if there is rapid changes in temperatures. Changes from warm to cold weather over spring and summer can slow or stop the ripening of the strawberry leaving the shoulders white. Rapid changes from cool to hot can also cause this problem and give you half white strawberries.
This article will explore why strawberries stay half white and what you can do to get bright red and delicious strawberries at home.
Why strawberries stay half white
There are a few reasons why strawberries will stay half white including temperature changes, damage to the stem or fruit as it is ripening or nutrient deficiency.
1. Temperature changes – extreme hot or cold
The top reason why strawberries will stay half white is if their ripening is interrupted by rapid temperature changes. Large changes in temperature from hot to cold or cold to hot will interrupt the berry’s ripening process.
The plant itself can become stressed, dry and focus its energy on saving the main plant rather than growing and supporting fruit development. These temperature changes can result in half-ripe strawberries.
You certainly can pick the fruit when it is half ripe. The red parts will taste sweet and the white parts will taste crisp like an apple. This might the best option as the berries might rot on the plant before they ever fully ripen.
Once picked strawberries will not ripen any more but you can save them from bugs and get (at least half) a ripe, sweet strawberry for yourself.
Full sun is important for strawberries to ripen quickly. When planting new strawberries choose the sunniest spot in your garden as possible for bright red, sweet strawberries.
2. Damage to the stem or root before it ripens
Another reason why a strawberry can stop ripening and end up with half of the flesh white is if it is damaged by bugs on the berry or stem. Damage to the stem will stop nutrients and water from flowing down to the fruit and can cause it to start rotting, drying up or fall off.
Damage to the berry itself can start a process of the fruit decaying making it more susceptible to further bug attack.
The trick to getting your fruit before it is damaged is to plant it in a bright sunny spot that will result in the berry ripening quickly. The quicker it ripens, the less chance there will be for bug attack which can damage the fruit and leave a half-eaten, half white strawberry.
Strawberries ripen from the tip to the stem so if it is damaged half way through ripening it can stop the ripening process leaving white shoulders.
3. Nutrient deficiency
Nutrient deficiency can interrupt the ripening process where the sugars develop near the skin of the strawberry turning it red and sweet. The best solution to this is to follow a good fertilizing schedule throughout spring and summer to set the plant up for success when it is growing berries.
My method is to first improve the soil before planting new strawberry plants with aged cow manure and compost. This will give the new plants a balanced mix of nutrients to get them off to a good start and grow strong roots.
I will follow up 4 weeks later with a handful of chicken manure pellets. These can be added again 4 weeks later and if you have them even at the time of planting.
After this I will slow down the fertilizing and not add any high nitrogen fertilizer. The plants will then absorb the nitrogen and tip the balance so there is a higher ratio of phosphorus and potassium. The plant is then ready to grow flowers, set fruit and ripen quickly.
A fruit promoting fertilizer can be added at the start of summer if there is a lot of leaf growth and no flowers to trigger the plant to produce berries.
Do half white strawberries taste good?
Half white strawberries will taste bitter or flavorless on the areas that are still white. I never waste a home grown strawberry so will eat the white bit which tastes crisp like an apple. Home grown strawberries will taste delicious half white or not so I always eat the whole berry even if it is still white.
For the sweetest strawberries pick them when they are fully red as they will not ripen after they have been picked.
It is important to know that once you pick a strawberry it will not ripen or turn red any further down the fruit. Once picked it will stop ripening and be at its maximum sweetness.
For the sweetest and tastiest berries, leave them on the bush until they are fully red, or red very close to the base of the stem. This will give you the sweetest strawberry possible and will taste amazing in cooked desserts or eaten fresh.
Is it OK to eat white strawberries?
It is okay to eat white strawberries but they will not taste as sweet as red ones. The white on the strawberry will eventually turn red in warm conditions where the plant is watered well.
If you find that it is taking a long time for the strawberry to ripen, it is better to pick them half red at home so that they don’t get eaten by bugs.
Why are my strawberries half white? | Summary
Strawberries will stay half white or white on the shoulders if there is a rapid change in temperature when it is ripening. This can also be caused by inconsistent watering, lack of nutrients or a shady spot.
They key to bright, red, sweet strawberries is a bright sunny spot, consistent watering, nitrogen fertilizer in spring and fruit promoting fertilizer in summer.
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I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.