On average, one year in ten is a true test winter for screening winter hardy plants. Thus, screening of cultural practices under field conditions is often difficult, requiring many years data. In Saskatchewan, the two major winter stresses are low temperature and desiccation. Under controlled lab conditions, a rapid screening method for cultural practices on strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa Duch.) plants was developed. Temperature profiles and survival under various row covers and mulches in this controlled system corresponded well to previous field results. Straw over plastic and snow over plastic row covers conferred the best low temperature protection on these plants.