Advisory leaflet for strawberry growers offers help on extending marketing season

The increased sophistication of strawberry production is evident in a new, comprehensive factsheet produced by the Horticultural Development Company (HDC). It covers every aspect of the operation apart from crop protection and picking and describes nine production systems and eight types of planting material.

The document, written by HDC's Scott Raffle, ADAS's Robert Irving and FAST's Graham Moore, is of particular value to those wanting to extend their marketing season and gives numerous helpful options.

It pointed out that the traditional picking season of two to three months can now last for up to 10 months or more with the help of glasshouses and fixed polytunnels.

The factsheet, available on request to all HDC members, stresses the advantages of extending the production season from March to December compared with May to August in the 1970s and 80s.

The production systems it describes include glasshouses and fixed polytunnels, with crops picked from March to early June and then from mid September to early December.

The mid May to late June period is covered by bed or tabletop-grown main season varieties in portable polytunnels and the late June to early October period by 60-day crops. Field or tunnel-grown everbearers are picked from early July to early November.

It also describes eight types of planting material and their uses. These include fresh-dug, graded cold-stored, tray and waiting bed plants, those raised from misted tips and potted everbearers.

"Traditionally (June bearer) fresh-dug plants were used by main season growers before crop manipulation became important. But (this type of plant) is popular for everbearers for planting in the autumn or spring," states the document, which also highlights the importance of good planting and establishment techniques for high fruit yields and quality.

- For a copy of the factsheet, call the HDC on 0247 669 2051.


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