Strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa Duch.) belongs to the family Rosaceae. The cultivated strawberry was originated from the hybridization of two American species viz., Fragaria chiloensis Duch. and Fragaria virginiana Duch.
Strawberry (F. × ananassa Duch.) is one of the most popular soft fruit cultivated in plains as well as in the hills.
It is herbaceous crop with prostate growth habit, which behaves as an annual in sub-tropical region and perennial in temperature region. All the cultivated varieties of strawberry are octaploid (2n = 8x = 56) in nature.
In India strawberry farming is mainly confined to Dehradun, Nanital (Uttarakhand), Solan, Kullu (Himachal Pradesh), Srinagar (Jammu and Kashmir) and hills of Darjeeling (West Bengal).
Being short duration crop it is ideally suitable to the farmers for additional income. It is one of the important fruit in the world.
It has become favorite fruit crop among the Indian growers near towns and cities, because of its remunerative prices and higher profitability, which has resulted a phenomenal increase in its area and production in the recent years.
Strawberry: Nutritional composition
Strawberry is used as fresh fruit, being rich in vitamin C and ellagic acid, which has anti cancerous property other than that several nutrients are found in strawberry.
Fruits are attractive with distinct pleasant aroma and flavour, consumed as dessert and also have a special demand by the fruit processing units for the preparation of jams, ice cream, syrups, etc. Nutrition Value per 100 g of strawberry fruit is given in Table 1.
Nutrition Value per 100 g of strawberry fruit Climate and Soil
Strawberry grows well in temperate climate some of the strawberry cultivars grow well in sub tropical climate. Frost prone climate and heavy rain fall are not suitable for successful cultivation of strawberry. Well drained soil having the rich organic matter is ideal for strawberry cultivation. Strawberry prefers slightly acidic soil having pH 5 to 6.
Ideal varieties always give the satisfactory yield and quality therefore for successful cultivation of strawberry following varieties should be selected.
Excellent choice for home gardeners used for fresh eating, having high yield potential.
Strawberry plant produces medium to small flavour fruit. It is the favourite choice for the home gardener who desire good quality berry in all season.
It is resistant to red stale and powdery mildew and partially resistant to verticillium wilt and leaf scorch.
A high yielding variety produces very large fruit and appears to be well adopted in plains of India.
Early season short day cultivar. Fruits are larger and firmer than Chandler, very flat conic has good appearance and widely adopted to grow in low latitude. Good for fresh market and processing.
Field preparation for Strawberry Farming
For strawberry farming, before planting, field should be well prepared by harrowing and rotavater.
There should not be any big clots in the field; planking operation should be performed for breaking the clots in field.
Strawberries are propagated through runners. Micro-propagated plants are also used for ideal yield and quality. Disease free runners should be selected for its propagation.
September- October is the ideal time of planting of strawberry runners.
Planting of runners
Strawberry runners having 2-3 full open leaves were planted on raised bed mulching with black polythene at 35 cm × 35 cm spacing.
Runners were placed in the receiving medium to a depth so that the crown remained exposed but all roots were buried thoroughly.
Mulching with black polythene should be done to prevent fruits from rotting, moisture conservation and weed control.
Strawberry planting methods
Matted row training is highly useful in our country and economical too.
In this system plants are planted at 90 cm row to row and 45 cm plant to plant and initial year the plants are allowed to cover the all spaces after that there will be no any gaps that restrict the growth of weed that looks like a mat.
Care should be taken that there should not be over crowding of the plants.
Manuring and fertilization
Well rotten FYM (farm yard manure) 20 tonnes per hectare should be incorporated at time of planting.
Recommended dose of fertilizer for better yield and quality is Nitrogen (80 kg per hectare), phosphorus (40 kg per hectare) and potassium (60 kg per hectare).
Half dose of fertilizer should be applied at time of planting and remaining half dose before blooming.
Intercultural operations for Strawberry Farming
Weeding and hoeing
In strawberry farming, weeding and hoeing was done manually with the help of khurpi. It is done after light irrigation in order to loosen the soil which facilitates weeding and hoeing.
Weeding was done to keep the plots clean, pulverized and adequately aerated.
First weeding was done after 30 days of transplanting, second weeding after 50 days of transplanting and later on as when required.
Immediately irrigation was done after planting with the help of hazara.
It was lightly and continuously irrigated till seven days and optimum soil moisture level was maintained in the field through irrigation as and when required.
Termites are major pest in strawberry farming. The symptoms can be characterized by wilting and drying of whole plant in 45 days after transplanting and they can be seen near the root zone.
To control termites Chlorpyriphos 20% EC along with irrigation water was applied and Carboryl @ 0.15% was sprayed to control strawberry caterpillars.
Blitox @ 0.25% and Bavistin @ 0.2% were sprayed alternatively at the initial stages of growth to protect plants from fungal attack.
In strawberry farming, albinism is the major physiological disorder which is characterized by development of fruit with improper colour development.
This disorder is due to excess of nitrogen and can be manage properly by application of balance dose of nitrogenous fertilizers.
Harvesting and yield
Fully mature fruit should be harvested at evening time or early morning and fruit should be pre cooled (10 to 15 C) after harvesting for avoiding the field heat and enhancing the shelf life of berries.
Strawberry fruits are very delicate; while doing strawberry harvesting, care should be taken that three should not be any physical injury otherwise fruit rotting will be there.
A well manage strawberry fruit crop can be yield up to 7 to 10 tons ha-1, yield of strawberry may vary from variety to variety also.
Also read: How to Cultivate Lychee
Post harvest management for Strawberries
Harvested straw berries should be kept at 32 C for one week at 85 % relative humidity.
Market Analysis of Strawberry Farming and Future strategy
India exports strawberry mainly to Austria, Bangladesh, Germany, Jordan and USA. Strawberry has advantage of easy propagation, early maturity and high yield with 5-9 percent sugar.
Need to develop infrastructure facility (transportation) to boost its production.
By: Karma Beer*, Mukesh Kumar Meena*, Vikas Yadav#
*ICAR- Indian Institute of Soil and Water Conservation RC Koraput-763 002 (Odisha)
#ICAR- Central Institute for Arid Horticulture, Bikaner, Rajasthan