Strawberry is globally grown for its fruit, in Nigeria many people don’t go into strawberry farming because they believe just like Apple Farming that it cannot be grown anywhere except in Plateau State. Another thing is that many people don’t have the knowledge of growing strawberry. This plant is one of the many Fruit crops that can be planted and harvested within the shortest time with huge profits.
It can be planted as ornamental plant for the beautification of our environment. The fruits are used for yoghurt, jam, fruit juice, ice cream, for flavor, eaten raw and for cooking. The jam extracted from strawberry can last for more than 6 months even upto a year. Strawberry are plants that loves cool environment that is why it is grown majorly n Jos, Nigeria.
These days strawberry can be planted anyway in Nigeria provided all their management practices are followed diligently. Strawberry farming is the major occupation of the people of Chaha a suburb in Vom local Government Area in Plateau State. It is one of the few fruit crops that requires less effort but great returns. You can become a millionaire within 3 months of planting strawberry. A small portion of land like a plot is good enough for commercial strawberry farming because it will accomodate many stands.
Choosing the right strawberry variety requires a combination of understanding of their; hardiness, resistance to diseases, size, flavor and time of fruiting. Each strawberry variety has different bearing time and fruiting stages. We have June bearing variety, ever-bearing variety and day-neutral strawberries. The type of variety to plant depends on you and what you are aiming at but you can plant the three different types of strawberry in your plantation.
1. JUNE BEARING
June bearing plants are known to have one monster crop of berries each year. This type of strawbery, start from June to bear fruiti sometimes earlier or later depending on different geographical time zone.
Ever Bearing strawberry plants have moderately size to smaller size fruits and can start producing once there is 12 hours of daylight then continue to bear fruits until Summer ends.
3. DAY NEUTRAL
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Day-neutral strawberry plant is a kind of cultivar with three peak periods of fruiting. Normally, these occurs during early June, mid July and late August, and portray a descent spread out crop.
It is advisable not to grow strawberry on land where okra, tomatoes, pepper and garden egg were planted before in the previous season. Because of susceptibility to Verticillium wilt (a viral disease) that are controlled through crop rotation only. Diseases or insects that might have infested those crops can be carried over and will in turn affect the strawberries.
STRAWBERRY VARIETIES THAT ARE GOOD FOR RAW CONSUMPTION
Selekta is the most popular variety which produces long and wedge shaped glossy red fruits.
Chandle produce strawberries that are firm with a distinctive sharp strawberry aroma.
STEPS TO TAKE IN STRAWBERRY FARMING
To raise a vigorous growing crop you have to prepare the land properly. Use tractor to clear the land of grasses and trees. Raise beds,ridges or mount of 15cm high or 0.5m in height and 1m width or raised soil of convenient length. Mix a well decomposed manure such as animal dung (cow, goat, pig, chicken etc.) into the soil at a rate of one medium bucket per square metre.
Dig a hole that can accommodate the roots, give a spacing of 30cm from row to row and 30cm from plant to plant. The soil should be rich in organic matter, a well drained sandy soil or sandy loam soil. Use a PH of 5.5-7.0 but for optimum best result use 6.5.
- Through Suspended means
- The Use of pot/vase
- Through the use of land
Strawberry fruit contains more than 200 seeds in its shell, but it is ideal to use already sprouted seedlings for cultivation. Even the people of Chaha use seedlings and they have been into strawberry cultivation for donkey years. In strawberry farming planting is done by the use of vegetative material known as splits of the strawberries crown.
Propagation should be done after enough watering of the bed in the morning although people will say afternoon time. The seedlings are placed in the soil with 2/4 of the roots into the soil and should be well covered but not too deep so as to avoid stem rottening. Make sure the leaves does not come in contact with the soil. When planting, ensure that all roots are buried and that the crown(shoots) are not covered with soil.
Tie the top end of the cuttings, dip the strawberries cuttings into enzyme solution for 42 hrs. Put fertile soil into plastic bags and plant the cuttings ensuring two nodes are below the soil level, then water frequently. Transplant them to already prepared ridges.
MULCHING IN STRAWBERRY FARMING
Mulching is done in order to conserve moisture, control weeds and keep strawberries clean. It is a very good management practice for strawberry farming. A layer of mulch, underneath the leaves of the plants will stop water from splashing into the soil which can pass to the foliage or leaves and from there pass on the soil pathogens. Make it a practice to always remove any dead and decaying foliage or leaves immediately you noticed it.
Use straw or nylon to mulch the farm
Irrigate every day in the afternoon during the first month after planting for good crop establishment. From the second month and there after 2-3 times a week. Strawberries don’t like waterlogged areas and are also non drought tolerant. Avoid dry soils, be frequent and consistent in watering. Irrigate strawberry either in the morning or evening.
Note, strawberry leaves are not watered but the roots are watered directly by using either drip system or flooding system.
WEEDING IN STRAWBERRY FARMING
Weeding strawberry farming is done by the use of hand avoid using machine because they are delicate. Since the ground is soft it becomes easy for you to drag weeds out.
To avoid premature fruiting De-blossoming and removal of strawberry flowers is recommended for the first 2 months. Premature fruiting may lead to stunting and poor development of strawberry plant.
Strawberries require a lot of nutrients for them to do well that is the more reason they should be fed with nutrients always. The plant need more of nitrogen because they are sending out runners and producing berries.
That is why you have to prepare the soil before planting the berries by mixing with compost dung manure. It will help in reducing or eradicate the amount of additional fertilizer the plants need. Preferable animal dung is chicken dung because the contain enough ammonia (nitrogen).
INTRODUCING GROWTH STIMULATORS/ROOTING AND SHOOTING HORMONE :
USE VEGIMAX: It will stimulate!the shooting and the rooting of the berry plants. Use the following foliar feeds D1 Grow Starter. You can prepare your own organic foliars using farm yard manure but ensure the manure is completely decomposed before applying it.
Apply Easy grow vegetative, 2 weeks after planting when shoots appear, it Can be repeated every 2 weeks. It helps in strengthening the plant in preparation for fruiting.
DI Grow fruit– Use red cap D1 Grow organic fertilizer when you want to trigger the fruiting process.
Thinning of 2- 3 splits per crown should be done every 7 months to allow rejuvenation and increase strawberry yields.
Runners and old leaves are removed in strawberries plantation in a practice called stripping.
PEST/DISEASE CONTROL IN STRAWBERRY FARMING
The major challenge of strawberry farming is caterpillar and snails. Avoid planting strawberry in areas already mentioned. Practice crop rotation. Hand pick these pests or use insecticides.
Harvesting of strawberry fruits starts 2½months -3months after planting.
Flowering is a continuous process with adequate watering but stop watering during cold season.Strawberry lifespan is 3 years,during the growing period foliar feeds may be applied to boost the yields. Rooting or enzymes; these includes; plantone, Anatone1, Anatone (a broad spectrum for roots, flower stimulation and fruit retention) may enhance strawberry plant establishment.
Strawberries are harvested by the use of hand, don’t wash the fruits after picking them until you are ready to consume them otherwise the get spoilt. Harvesting can be done two to three times a week. Strawberry season is between April to August.
COST ANALYSIS OF STRAWBERRY FARMING
We are going to be costing for 100 units of strawberry sack planting. The cost of materials and seedlings depends on your location. For instance, in Jos strawberry seedling cost #200 or more. But in Ogun the seedling cost #700 and some seed companies sell theirs #500 per seedling.
Seedlings 500×100= #50,000
Transportation of seeding =#20,000
Sack bag. 50×100=#5000
Straw or nylon. #2,000
Other expenses #20,000
PROFITS IN STRAWBERRY FARMING
100 sacks of strawberry will give you not less than 20kg of fruits weekly until harvest is over. And harvest last for about 20 weeks. The price of strawberry fruit depends on the location. In Jos 1kg can be bought for #1,000 but in Lagos #3,000.
Let’s say you sold yours #1,000 per kg
1000x20kg. = #20,000
For the season you will have more than #400,000
The bigger your farm the more profit you make.
Strawberry Fruits are highly perishable fruits so before harvest time make sure you have contacted buyers down. So they can buy them off when the time comes. You can packaged them and sell to supermarkets, malls, road vendors etc. Others are manufacturers of products that uses strawberry. Don’t harvest them down make sure they are taken immediately after harvest.
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