Strawberry plant is a native fruit of the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere and cultivated worldwide. At the beginning of its cultivation, it was cultivated on straw, from this its name became strawberry. It is famous for its bright red color, fragrance, juiciness, and sweetness. It is eaten by a large number of people either fresh or with different desserts. The fruits are rich in vitamin C and iron. Cultivable large-fruited strawberry was originated in Europe in the 18th century but now it is cultivated in many countries of the world.
Types and Verities of Strawberry:
Strawberry plant is generally 3 types like June-bearing, everbearing or day-neutral. June-bearing is good for home gardening. There are hundreds of cultivars of strawberries cultivated in different countries. Some cultivable verities are Albion, Allstar, Alpine, Aroma, Diamante etc.
Suitable Climate for Strawberry Plant:
Strawberry mainly grows in the temperate climate. But some species of strawberry can tolerate relatively high heat. It needs exposure to about 10 days of less than 8 hours of sunshine when the flower starts coming. In winter, the strawberry plant doesn’t grow up and remain in a dormant stage. When the spring starts plant starts growing and flowering. But the verities which cultivated in the subtropical region grows up in winter.
Strawberry grows well in well-drained and organic-rich medium loamy soil. Slightly acidic soil whose pH level is between 5.7 and 6.5 is good for strawberry.
Strawberry propagates through runner which is the stem portion of the plant that grows horizontally as opposed to upplight like the mainstream. At first, collect runners from an old plant of strawberry and implant the runners in the organic-rich soil. Arrange light shade for the runners. Make a seedbed with 50% silt soil and 50% organic fertilizer. When roots come out from the runner cut it and implant them in the seedbed.
You can also implant these runners in the polybag and keep them in a lightly shaded nursery. Before planting the runners in the polybag or seedbed purify the soil. After preparing the seedbed spread a 15cm thick layer of husk or sawdust on it and burn it to purify the soil. In rainy season provide a polythene camp on the seedbed. The yielding capacity of plants produced from runners decreases every year. Therefore, it is better to produce saplings every year through tissue culture.
Land Preparation and Planting:
For the production of strawberries, the land should be prepared by deep plowing followed by harrowing. Remove the weeds and especially perennial weeds from land. To prevent soil-borne diseases, mix bleaching powder at 2.5 kg/acre rate with soil. The strawberry can be cultivated by both bed method and by flat form method. However, the bed method has to be followed in the practice of the fertigation method. For this, make a 1 meter wide and 10-15 cm high bed. Keep 30-50 cm drain in the middle of the two beds. Plant saplings in rows. The distance between two rows should be 30-50cm and the distance between two saplings in a row should be 20-40cm. This distance varies with the types of strawberry.
September-October is the best time for planting runners. Early or late planting reduce the yield. When implanting saplings make sure that roots of the saplings going straight down and the soil around the plant are firmly packed to exclude air. After planting give irrigation immediately and take care that the plant is not dry.
Fertilizer Quantity and Application Method:
To obtain high quality and yield, apply standard fertilizers regularly. For the medium fertile land, 30 tons of cow dung, 30 kg urea, 175 kgs TSP, 200 kg MOP, 115 kg of gypsum, 12 kg of boric acid and 8 kg of Zink sulfate fertilizers can be applied for per hectare. Apply the total amount of dung, TSP, gypsum, boric acid, and zinc sulfate fertilizers during the last plowing and mix them well with the soil. In the fertigation method, apply 200 kg urea and 150 kg and MOP fertilizer after 15 days of transplantation of seeding and continue giving fertilizer at an interval of 15-20 days. Give fertilizer in 5-7 splits by mixing it with the irrigation water. Use drip irrigation method.
Strawberry is a shallow-rooted plant. It needs frequent but less amount of water in each irrigation. After planting runner give frequent irrigation to protect the saplings otherwise, the saplings will dry out. If there is no rain in the months of September and October, give irrigation twice in a week. In November give irrigation once in a week and in December and January give irrigation once in 15days. When plants start teeming again give frequent irrigation. Frequent irrigation during teeming gives large fruits.
Mulching and Caring:
Mulch is very important for strawberry production because strawberry wastes when it comes in direct contact with soil. After 20-25 days of transplantation, cover the beds by straw or black polythene. Take care that the straw is not attacked by termite. Mix 3ml Dursban EC and 2 grams Bavistin DF with per liter of water and clarify the straw with the mixture to prevent termite attack. The strawberry land should always be kept weed free. Runner comes out of the tree regularly. Those runners should be cut after 10-15 days. If the runner is not cut, then the flowers and fruits of the trees will reduce.
Pests of Major Importance:
This pest causes flower malformation and reduces the development rate of fruit. To prevent this pest spray aphicide in the spring after some growth of the plant. But spray before the flowering starts.
- Red Spider Mite:
In winter and early spring, adult female mites feed on the underside of leaves and cause mottled yellowing. Control is difficult if plants are heavily infested. To prevent this pest spray programs should arrange early in the year and after harvesting.
It rots the green and ripe fruits and quickly reduce them to a soft mass covered with grey dusty spores of the fungus. To control botrytis use protectant cover of fungicide during the blossoming period.
Mildew Flourish under a hot dry condition in late summer. Dark red colored blotches are found in the affected leaves. A white powdery mildew is found the underside of the affected leaves and around the affected fruits and flowers. Cultivate Elsanta verity. It is very prone to mildew and applies preventive sprays frequently.
- Red Core:
It is a dangerous disease of strawberries. The fungus which lives in the soil attacks the roots of strawberry plants and rots the roots. The disease spread through drainage water. So, make sure that drainage water is good and not contaminated.
In plain land Strawberry generally ripe during late February to April and in high elevation from May to June. Collect the fruit when half of three-fourths of skin holds color. Collect fruits every day in the morning and keep in small trays or baskets. Keep them in a shady place to protect them from the heat of open field.
Strawberry plant starts teeming in the second year. Generally, the yield of strawberry is 45-100 quintals/ha. But through good management, you can get a yield of 175-300q./ha. Yield varies according to place and season.
Classify the fruits into different grades and according to their size, weight, and color.
Store the strawberries in clod storage after harvesting. You can store it up to 10 days at 32°C temperature. For long transportation, you should precool the fruits at 4° C immediately after harvesting and keep them at the same temperature. Use refrigerated van to transport them in the market of long distance.
Pack the fruits in perforated cardboard cartons and use paper cutting as cushioning material. Pack the fruits according to their grades.
Strawberry is a worldwide eaten fruit. It is very famous and there is a grade demand for it. Through the commercial cultivation of strawberry, you can earn your livelihood easily. You can also export it. You can cultivate it in your garden for your own use, for this follow the same cultivation method.