Hybrid ‘Marshall’ strawberries are considered among the best of the best of American hybrids and definitely belongs on site site with other legendary varieties. It was discovered in 1883 by Marshall Ewell near Boston. Because of it’s flavor it quickly became a favorite of home gardeners and it’s fame and plantings spread across the U.S. It was widely grown in the Pacific Northwest. Diseases imported from other countries nearly wiped out the variety in the 1940’s. In the 1960’s many excellent strawberry varieties fell out of favor because of their soft fruit and inability to ship long distances. In 2008 it was declared an “endangered food” by Gary Paul Nabhan’s Renewing America’s Food Traditions. Since then it is slowly being reintroduced by several champions of the variety. We join them in this effort.
James Beard, champion of American cuisine, considered Marshall “the finest eating strawberry in America, exceedingly handsome, splendidly flavored, pleasantly sprightly, aromatic and juicy.”
This variety still doesn’t fit into long distance shipping. Its flavor is extraordinary, the stuff of legend, and should be grown by home gardeners and trialled by u-pick and market garden growers. It is a June bearing variety that produces fruit in mid season. It adapts quickly to milder environments but is hardy and can be grown in northern growing areas.
For a historical perspective and to learn about this and other old varieties visit this link
We were very excited to get a couple of rooted runners of Marshall in the spring of 2016. A customer from Wilmington, DE provided them. She had received them from a grower in the Pacific Northwest. They had already fruited which was disappointing but we were and are still excited.
We had requested plant material of this variety from the USDA-ARS in Corvallis, OR. We were not expecting anything until later in the fall but received a single bare root runner soon after receiving the runners from the generous customer in Wilmington.
All were potted up and produced a fair number of runners during the summer into the fall. The plants seem to produce very large leaves if provided with good nutrition. The leaf shape is distinctive and typically not dark green but a medium green. Here’s a picture of a leaf from late October.
Here are pictures from the web. There’s not much out there other than illustrations at this point.
I wanted to note that our experience growing Marshall has been similar to experiences with other strawberries. During the heat of the summer the plants start to shut down. We notice this especially when we are trying to root runners. Runner production slows to a near halt even when using shade cloth. We have found that aeration containers reverse this fairly quickly. We use Roottrapper II’s with a lot of our stock production for seed saving and runner production.
This picture was taken in late October of a Marshall stock plant that looked like it was going to die in July. We put it into a 16′ Roottrapper II. A number of the runners rooted into the container and we pinned down many runners into smaller pots. This plant is a monster and should be highly productive for fruit and runners next year. For perspective, the picture of the leaf at the top of this page was taken from this plant.