Strawberry ice cream, cakes, milkshakes, and other similar sweets are immensely popular all over the world. The fruit’s nutritional value, color, scent, texture, and, of course, flavor all contribute to its popularity. Additionally, candy, hand sanitizers, cosmetics, and other products employ artificial flavoring. India’s Satara regions, Kalimpong in West Bengal, Bangalore, Nainital, and Dehradun are where strawberries are grown. In India, strawberry agriculture is concentrated in the Satara districts of Mahabaleshwar, Wai, and Panchgani, where 85% of the crop is grown.
If properly promoted, strawberry farming is an extremely successful agricultural enterprise. Because strawberries are such a delicate fruit, growers must give their plants the utmost attention. Here is all the information you need to know about strawberry growing, planting, plant protection, and marketing in India.
How to cultivate strawberries:
- Getting the Land Ready for Strawberry Production:
The ground must first be extensively tilled and then harrowed in order to cultivate strawberries. Before planting the runners, organic manure such as neem cake, farmyard manure, etc. is incorporated into the soil. After the field has been plowed, it is ready for planting. There are several strawberry planting methods used, including matted rows, hill systems, spaced rows, and plastic mulch.
- Planting Strawberry Seeds:
They must be gently planted in the ground, with the roots pointing straight down. To keep air out, the dirt must then be tightly packed around the roots. But make sure the strawberry plant’s growth tip is kept slightly above the soil’s surface. They need to be watered right after planting and shouldn’t be allowed to dry out.
- Care Following Planting:
Flower stems that emerge on plants immediately following planting must be removed. This prevents the plants from draining, which would reduce their vitality. Additionally, by using this technique, the plants are better able to withstand heat and drought. This procedure helps the strawberry plant establish itself in the soil and boosts the number of runners in cultivars that generate fewer daughter plants. If the matted row approach is used, excess plants are pulled from beyond the row in the late summer or fall.
Keeping weeds out of the crops is crucial, particularly if it is their first cultivation. The most popular method of preventing weeds is plastic mulch. The plant’s crown must be surrounded by enough soil to prevent it from becoming covered. Additionally, only the top 2.5 to 5 cm of the soil may be used for cultivation. This process is kept up until straw mulch application.
- Protection for Plants from Diseases:
Growing disease-resistant cultivars might aid in disease management. Rotating strawberries with leguminous crops is one strategy for preventing black root rot. Removing the early-stage flower stalks that form, is also crucial to preserve the health of the plants. Care must be made to wet the soil around the plant’s base while watering the plants. The likelihood of a fungal infection rises when water is sprinkled on the surface of a leaf, fruit, or flower.
- Strawberries being harvested:
While strawberries ripen on the lowlands from late February to early April, the strawberry season begins in Mahabaleshwar, Nainital, and Kashmir in May and continues through June. The fruit is picked when it is firm and roughly three-fourths of it has turned color. They are collected when completely ripe for local markets. Typically, harvesting takes place every day. They must be harvested in the morning if the weather is dry. They need to be packaged immediately in shallow, flat containers after harvest. Avoid washing them since washing makes them bruise and lose color.
- Keeping, Packing, and Moving
The strawberries are sorted and placed into shallow trays as soon as they are picked. The trays may be constructed from paper, cardboard, or bamboo. Fruits may be kept in a refrigerator for up to ten days. The berries are pre-cooled to 40C within two hours after harvesting if they are being exported to far-off locations, and they are then carried in refrigerated vans.
- Gains from Strawberry Production:
Since there is far more demand than there is supply for strawberry fruit, strawberry agriculture in India is tremendously profitable. Strawberry sells for competitive prices. Before planting strawberries, one should conduct research since rural markets are unfavorable for strawberries, yet they can be sold in supermarkets and in small- to large-scale urban areas.
Prerequisites for strawberry cultivation:
- strawberry plantation climate
Although certain kinds may thrive in warmer climates, strawberry farming requires a temperate temperature. They are plants with brief days. They require an exposure time (sunlight) of between eight and twelve hours for around 10 days in order to develop flowers. Winter is when they go dormant and stop growing. Spring, when the days lengthen, comes after winter. As a result, the plants receive sunlight, which starts the flowering process. However, cultivars produced in subtropical areas with mild winters continue to produce new growth.
- Strawberry-Cultivating Soil
Strawberry plants have fibrous roots. Therefore, the bulk of its roots continues to grow in the top 15 cm of soil. Soil that is rich in humus is necessary for its cultivation. Because tomato, potato, raspberry, pepper, and eggplant are plants that draw a lot of nutrients from the soil, care should be made to avoid growing strawberries on soil that has previously been used for such crops. They deplete the soil’s nutrients. With a pH range of 5.0 to 6.5, strawberry thrives best in mildly acidic soil. With the aid of liming, it may also thrive on soil with a pH range of 4.5 to 5.5.
- Strawberry Plantation Season
Autumn is the time of year when strawberries’ vegetative growth is at its highest. Winter brings on its dormant state. After the winter, it begins to bloom in the spring. As a result, strawberries are often planted from September to October. Early plantations will produce lesser yields since they are weaker plants.
- Additional Environmental Factors
Because of their small sensitivity, strawberries are readily affected by changes in natural conditions such as temperature, light intensity, and photoperiod. Frost and winter damage can reduce fruit output. Similar to this, variations in photoperiod have an impact on the yield by altering plant shape and vegetative development.
Starting a new business may appear to be an impossible endeavor from a distance, but as you become more familiar with the fundamentals, your confidence and knowledge will also begin to grow. Therefore, it’s vital that you maintain your focus and discipline after a strong start. You now have a solid grasp of the key elements and essentials needed to thrive in this industry. For further information, you can check out the ffreedom app and find a variety of courses and modules in this industry for a clearer and better comprehension.