Strawberries are their sweetest when fully ripened on the plants. For most varieties this means leaving the berries on the plant for a day or two after they are fully colored. The only way to know for sure is a taste test.
Harvesting Your Strawberries
Strawberries bruise easily. Be gentle when pulling them from the plants. Snap the stem directly above the berry rather than pulling on the berry itself. Keep harvested berries in a cool, shady location.
Strawberry plants don't live forever, but some renovation will keep them vigorous for 5 years. After the final harvest, mow the strawberry plants to a height of 2-3 inches, taking care not to damage the crowns. Feed with 5 lb.. of a balanced (10-10-10) fertilizer per 100 linear feet of row. Till the area between the rows, mulch and all. Narrow the width of the mat rows to 18 inches by removing one side of the row and leaving the younger plants. Thin the remaining plants in the rows to 6-9 inches apart.
Renovating the June Bearing Strawberry Bed
When yield seems to be falling off or the plants begin declining in vigor, start with new plants in a new area.