Do you want to know how to start commercial strawberry cultivation with low investment? Find here a detailed strawberry farming business plan sample checklist for your ready reference.
Strawberry is one of the most important commercial soft fruit. In addition, it is easier to grow. Any individual can start commercial strawberry cultivation with a small capital investment.
However, check whether the agroclimatic condition of your region permits strawberry production or not. Additionally, you must have a sufficient area of land. You can produce strawberries through both open and protected conditions.
The scientific name of strawberry is Fragaria. And it belongs to the Rosaceae family. The United States is the world’s largest producer of strawberries. The next highest producing countries are Turkey, Spain, Egypt, Korea, Mexico, and Poland.
In India, major strawberry producing areas are Nainital, Dehradun, Mahabaleshwar (Maharashtra), Kashmir Valley, Bangalore, and Kalimpong (West Bengal).
Economic Importance Of Strawberry Farming
Generally, people consume strawberry fruits in two ways. These are as fresh fruits and processed items. Additionally, strawberry is an important item in bakery, confectionery, soft drinks, chewing gum, and ice cream industries. India exports strawberries mainly to Austria, Bangladesh, Germany, Jordan & U.S.A.
The fruit is highly rich is several minerals like Ca, P, and K. Additionally, it is a natural source of antioxidants. However, this is a highly perishable fruit. And for fresh distribution, you must maintain the right temperature and cooling chain supply facility.
Health Benefits Of Strawberry
- First of all, Strawberries are an excellent source of Vitamin C.
- The fruits include folate, potassium, manganese, dietary fiber, and magnesium.
- In addition, fruits are a natural source of antioxidants.
- Antioxidants such as flavonoids, phenolic phytochemicals, and ellagic acid prevent dry eyes, degeneration of the optical nerves, macular degeneration, vision defects, and increased susceptibility to infections as well.
- Additionally, these fruits help to boost the immune system of our body.
- Furthermore, strawberries are rich in iodine as well, which is very helpful for regulating the proper functioning of the brain and nervous system.
- Finally, it prevents heart diseases and reduces cholesterol.
Things To Consider In Commercial Strawberry Farming
- According to the area of land, it is important to craft a business plan. Clearly, determine the input costs and marketing plan.
- It is recommended to have soil testing prior. Identify the nutrients deficiencies and PH balance. It will help you in fertilization planning.
- Additionally, select the right variety. According to the agroclimatic condition of your region, you must choose the right variety for your strawberry farm.
- Keep ready proper irrigation and plant protection facilities for your strawberry farm.
- Check the list of equipment that you will need to have in time for growing strawberries.
Also Read: Is Soil Testing Important In Agriculture?
Best Varieties For Strawberry Farming
Strawberry plants come in three types:
- Day-Neutral: Insensitive to day length, these varieties produce buds, fruits, and runners continuously if the temperature remains between 35 and 85. Production is less than that of Junebearers.
- Everbearer: These varieties form buds during the long days of summer and the short days of autumn. The summer-formed buds flower and fruit in autumn and the autumn-formed buds fruit the following spring.
- Junebearer: Length-of-day sensitive, these varieties produce buds in the autumn, flowers. and fruits the following spring, and runners during the long days of summer.
Some of the most popular strawberry varieties are Ofra, Camarosa, Chandler, Fair Fox, Black More, Elista, Sweet Charlie, and Seascape. For the hilly areas, varieties Royal Sovereign, Srinagar and Dilpasand are suitable. Some of the introductions from California, such as Torrey, Toiga, and Solana may prove even more successful.
Agroclimatic Condition For Strawberry Farming
Strawberry thrives best in the temperate climate. It is a short-day plant, which requires exposure to about 10 days of less than 8 hours sunshine for initiation of flowering. In winter, the plants do not make any growth and remain dormant.
The exposure to low temperatures during this period helps in breaking the dormancy of the plant. In spring when the days become longer and the temperature rises. The plants resume growth and begin flowering. The varieties grown in milder subtropical climate do not require chilling and continue to make some growth during winter.
Suitable Soil For Strawberry Farming
Strawberry requires a well-drained medium loam soil, rich in organic matter. However, the slightly acidic soil with a pH from 5.7 to 6.5 is suitable. At higher pH root formation is poor. The presence of excessive calcium in the soil causes the yellowing of the leaves.
In light soils and in those rich in organic matter, runner formation is better. Additionally, you must not produce strawberry in the same land for a number of years. It is preferable to plant it in green manured field. In addition, you must avoid alkaline soils and soils infected with nematodes.
Commercial Strawberry Farming Basic Steps
Generally, strawberry propagates from runners. And runners are formed after the blooming season. You must allow the plants to set as many runners as possible. However, you must never allow in setting any fruits. Additionally, you can utilize all the plants with good root system to set a new plantation. Given the best attention and care, a single plant usually produces 12 to 18 runners.
First of all, you must prepare the properly for strawberry cultivation. Harrowing and ploughing are necessary. Additionally, you must apply liberal quantities of organic manure in the soil before planting. You can plant strawberries on both flatbeds and raised beds. Additionally, during planting keep the plants dry and apply immediate irrigation after planting. Furthermore, maintain the proper planting time according to your geographic location and climate condition.
Planting early in autumn allows the plants to make good vegetative growth before the onset of winter. However, in this case, you must irrigate the newly planted runners frequently after planting. Otherwise, the mortality of the plants becomes high. When fruiting starts, you must provide the frequent irrigation on daily basis. At this stage, frequent irrigation gives larger fruits.
Strawberry requires moderate amounts of nitrogen. Therefore, you must apply the organic matter to the soil. It improves the water holding capacity of the soil and also gives better runner formation. Generally, the application of adequate amounts of nitrogen gives the higher yield of early berries.
You must protect your strawberry farm from pests and diseases. Red spider mites and cutworms are important pests of strawberries. Additionally, the two commonest diseases of strawberry are red stele, caused by the fungus Phytophthora Fragariae and black root rot.
Harvesting & Yield
Generally, you can harvest strawberry when half to three-fourths of skin develops color. Depending on the weather conditions, you can pick the fruits on every second or third day usually in the morning hours. Additionally, Pick the berries by nipping off stalk and not holding the fruit Generally, mechanical harvesting reduces the cost of production. In commercial strawberry farming, you can expect an average yield of 8 to 12 tons of fruits from one hectare of land.