The following discussion is all about Strawberry Production.
Introduction to Strawberry
Strawberry fruit is a widely grown fruit in the world. This fruit is being considered as one of the important commercial fruit crops. Strawberries are cultivated commercially in tropical and sub-tropical areas of the world. One of the biggest advantages of strawberry cultivation is its easy propagation method and early maturity. Farmers can obtain an excellent yield of this fruit under ideal fruit orchard management practices. These fruits have excellent health benefits and are a good source of anti-oxidants, vitamin ‘C’, and minerals. The use of strawberry includes preserves, toppings of any dish, milkshakes, fruit juices, Jams, pies, ice creams, and chocolates. Strawberries have excellent juicy texture, aroma, along with the good sweetness. These fruits usually exist in a bright red color. Where can we grow this wonderful fruit?, well Strawberries are not only grown in open fields but in the greenhouse, polyhouse, shade nets, pots and containers, backyards, terrace, and balconies. The Urban area where space is limited, you can grow this vine in backyards or in balconies where sufficient sunlight is possible.
Nowadays, hydroponic strawberry production is becoming popular where there is no need of having soil. You can read here more about Hydroponic Farming. As we know strawberries are native to temperate areas. However, most of the strawberry varieties are cultivated in sub-tropical regions as well. Strawberries are grown throughout the USA, Europe, and South America. Recently, farmers started strawberry cultivation in India as well.The USA is a top producer of strawberries in the world. In Indian region, Strawberry fruits are cultivated on a commercial scale in Himachal Pradesh (HP), Uttar Pradesh (UP), Maharashtra, West Bengal, Kashmir Valley, Bangalore, Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, and Rajasthan. People are started growing these even in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh (AP). Proper orchard management practices along with high yielding strawberry hybrid or improved varieties bring decent profits in strawberry production. This article talks about growing strawberry from seed to harvest.
Scientific Name of Strawberry Plant
Strawberry Plant Family Name
Genus of Strawberry Plant
Strawberry Fruit in Indian Languages
- Sdtraaberii – Hindi.
- Sṭrāberrī/స్ట్రాబెర్రీ – Telugu.
- செம்புற்றுப்பழம் – Tamil.
- സ്ട്രോബെറി – Malayalam.
- Strawberry – Bengali.
- ನೆಲಮುಳ್ಳಿ ಹಣ್ಣು – Kannada.
- स्ट्रॉबैरी – Marathi.
- Istaber – Kashmiri.
- સ્ટ્રોબેરી – Gujarati.
- توت فرنگی -Urdu.
Top Production Countries of Strawberries
The following are the production countries of strawberry fruits in the world.
- The USA.
- South Korea.
Health Benefits of Strawberries
The following are some of the health benefits of strawberries.
- Regular consumption strawberries will boost the immune system.
- Strawberry fruits improve eye health.
- Strawberry fruits are an excellent source of vitamin ‘C’.
- Antioxidants and detoxifiers of strawberry fruits help to relieve pain from Arthritis and Gout.
- Strawberries are excellent fruits for fighting against cancer cells.
- These fruits are excellent for memory and brain function.
- Daily intake of strawberry fruits may lower blood pressure.
- The heart can be protected by consuming strawberries daily.
- These fruits have properties to reduce inflammation due to anti-oxidants in them.
- They also very well known for weight loss.
- Birth defects can be prevented by consuming strawberry fruits or juice regularly.
Varieties of Strawberries
There are many varieties of strawberries are popular across the globe. However, some important varieties grown in the United States of America are Blackmore, Missionary, Premier Florida-90, Klonmore, and Klondike. When it comes to India, some of the high yielding types grown are Pusa Early Dwarf, Royal Sovereign, Torrey, Toiga, Srinagar, Seascape. Dilpasand, Bangalore, and Solana. You can contact the department of horticulture for finding suitable high yielding/hybrid varieties for your area.
Climate Requirement for Strawberry Plants
Strawberry plants thrive best in a temperate climate. However, some cultivars (varieties) grow well in sub-tropical climatic conditions as well. Strawberry plant vegetative growth depends on temperature, photoperiod, and light intensity. These factors can directly affect the plant growth, quality of fruit, and yield of the crop. Frost conditions should prevent plant growth and fruit yield since strawberry is very sensitive to frost. Severe winter climatic conditions result in a reduction of crop yield. Strawberry plants are short-day plants and they require sunlight exposure less than 8 hours for about 9 to 10 days for initiation of flowering. In the winter season, strawberry plants will not record any growth and remain dormant.
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Soil Requirement for Strawberry Crop Establishment
The soil is one of the factors that directly impact plant life cycle and growth hence the yield. Selecting suitable soil is a must for everyone who is into commercial strawberry production. These plants require well-drained loamy soils rich in humus (organic matter). Strawberry plant roots are found in the topsoil at 14 to 15 cm depth. You must practice crop rotation method to protect the soil. You should avoid continuous cultivation of strawberries in the same field (soil). Avoid growing strawberries in the same field (soil) where brinjal (eggplant) tomatoes, raspberry, peppers, and potatoes are grown previously. It is better to avoid alkaline soils and soils infected with nematodes to prevent the crop from pests and diseases. The recommended soil pH for strawberry cultivation is 5.5. to 7.0. Strawberry plants grow well in slightly acidic soil conditions. However, the soils having low pH value should be supplemented with lime. It is recommended to go for testing soil fertility in case of commercial strawberry production. Any nutrient and micro-nutrient gaps should be supplemented in the soil well before the planting.
Propagation and Raising Runners of Strawberry
Strawberry plants are raised through vegetative propagation(runners). Actually, these runners are formed after the flowering (blooming) season. Ensure the strawberry plants are allowed to set runners but not fruits. It is advised to have a good root system for new plantation in the field for better establishment of roots in the soil. Usually, each strawberry plant can produce 30 to 40 runners under ideal plant care.
The planting of strawberry should be done at a distance of 1.2 m x 1.2 m or 1.8 m x 1.8 m on a separate bed prepared for strawberry plant runner production. You can spray growth regulators to increase runner production. The runners should be planted in poly bags using the potting media of sand: soil: well-decomposed farmyard manure in the ration 1:1:2 for a month.
Land Preparation, Planting and Spacing of Strawberry
The field should be prepared thoroughly by giving a couple of deep ploughings followed 1 or 2 harrowing to bring the soil to fine tilth stage. To increase the soil nutrition, add 18 to 20 tonnes/ha of well-decomposed farmyard manure (FMY) in the soil during land preparation before planting the runners. Strawberry planting methods vary from area to area. Healthy strawberry plant runners with a medium to the large crown and well-developed root system are planted in a row system either in single or double rows. The strawberry runners can be planted on flatbeds, matted rows, or on raised beds. If you are planning to grow strawberries under irrigated conditions, the best method is planting them on ridges. in case of raised beds 4 m x 3 m or 4 m x 4 m is recommended and the plant-to-plant distance maintained is about 45 cm and row-to-row distance maintained as 60 cm – 75 cm.
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Irrigation requirement for growing Strawberries
Watering the plants depends on soil moisture holding capacity, climate and plant growth stage. Strawberry is a shallow-rooted crop hence the plants are susceptible to drought conditions. Instead of providing large amounts of water once, frequent irrigation with less amount of water is advised. However, a newly transplanted runner should be irrigated frequently for proper root set and vegetative growth. On average, watering should be carried out twice a week once plants are well-established. There is no need to water the strawberry orchard in the rainy season. In winter climate, irrigating the field once in a week is good enough to maintain the good soil moisture.
Avoid water stress during fruit set for proper fruit development. Don’t over-irrigate the plants as it may cause rotting and finally results in plant death.
Drip irrigation provides the best water and fertilizer utilization. You can make the entire plantation with a drip system. There are government schemes available to get 70 to 80 subsidy on drip irrigation system. Contact NABARD or department of horticulture for more details on the subsidy of drip system.
Manures and Fertilizers for Strawberry
Timely application of manures and fertilizers in any strawberry crop play a major role in healthy growth of the plants, quality fruits, and high yields.
The following nutrients should be supplied in the strawberry orchard.
- Well-decomposed farmyard manure (FMY) – 18 to 20 tonnes/ha ( before planting and at the time of field/soil preparation)
- N:P:K ratio should be 20:40:40 kg/ha (pre-planting)
- ‘K’ of 80 kg/ha and ‘P’ of 40 kg/ha is recommended annually.
- Other nutrients and micro-nutrients for quality fruit set, and higher yields: supplement the plants with boric acid (0.2%), zinc sulfate (0.5%), calcium sulfate (0.5%), and foliar application of urea (2%).
Intercultural Operations of Strawberry Crop
Intercultural operations are essential for a healthy crop.
- Plant Care in Strawberry Production: As strawberry plants have shallow roots (close to the soil surface), the soil should be well supplied with moisture content in it. Hoeing should be done lightly to make sure the weed-free environment around the plant basin.
- Mulching in Strawberry Production: To retain the soil moisture at the plant base, you should go for mulching. Mulching can save the plants from cold injury in winter and protect from moisture loss. The other advantages of mulching are to control weed growth at the plant base and maintains soil temperature. This can also help in preventing soil erosion. mulch material like hay, any dry leaves or husk or peat can work as excellent organic manure.
Pests and Diseases of Strawberry
Pest and disease control is one of the essential tasks in any orchard. Strawberry plants are susceptible to many pests and diseases. However, the severity of these pests and disease may vary according to the area.
Cutworms and white grubs in Strawberry:
- Symptoms of this pest include cutting the roots and stem of young plants.
- Control measures: Ensure deep plowing and drenching the soil with chlorpyriphos @ 2ml/L water can control this pest.
Root weevil in Strawberry:
- Symptoms include deep tunnels in the crown base and finally, the plant’s collapse to death.
- Control measure: Application of Carbofuran of 5 to10 kg per hectare and Parathion of 0.017% around the plants can check this.
Verticillium wilt in Strawberry:
- Symptoms include, the older leaves turn brown and shrivelled, finally results in plant death.
- Control measures: The proper crop rotation apart from soil fumigation with chloropicrin 210 L/hectare should be carried out to control this.
Leafspot in Strawberry:
- Symptoms include drying of leaves and defoliate will occur.
- Control measures: 5 sprays of carbendazim of 0.5 grams/liter water at 20 days intervals can control this.
Note: Your local department of horticulture is a good point of contact for finding solutions for controlling pests and diseases in strawberry production. Without knowing the symptoms of pests and diseases, don’t experiment. It is always recommended to have an agriculture/horticulture technical officer on the field to properly diagnosis the problems.
Harvesting of Strawberry
Strawberries will be ready when 60 to 75% of fruit skin starts developing a color. As these fruits are highly perishable, It is advised to pick the fruits daily or alternate days.
Post-Harvesting of Strawberry Crop
Strawberries need good care in handling and storing as their tendency of high perishability. It is advised to harvest the fruits in the early morning and sends to the market in the afternoon of the same day. If the fruits are picked in the late afternoon, make sure to store them in a cool place overnight and send them to market them in the next morning. Grading should be done based on fruit size, color. The graded fruits can be packed in plastic punnets and are placed in cardboard boxes before sending them to market.
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The yield of Strawberry Fruits
The yield of the strawberry crop depends on variety, soil, irrigation, climate, season and other plant management practices. On average, one can obtain 25 to 30 tonnes/ hectare. However, some commercial hybrid varieties (cultivars) may produce up to 50 tonnes/ hectare.
Marketing of Strawberries:
Transport graded and packed fruits to local fruit markets.