In India, strawberry cultivated in areas like Mahabaleshwar, Ooty, Idukki, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and the northeast state of India.
Mostly Strawberry crop is cultivated in open field; Nowadays Strawberry has cultivated in the Greenhouse also because the price of Strawberry is high in the off-season.In the Greenhouse, Strawberry Plants grow through the years.
Strawberry fruit is a rich source of vitamin ‘C, Iron, Potassium, and fiber.
Botanical Name: Fragaria ananassa.
Climate and Soil:
Strawberry thrives best in 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 temperature during this period helps in breaking 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.
From the standpoint of response to length of the light period, strawberries are placed in two groups: (1) varieties that develop flower buds during both long and short light periods, the overbearing varieties and (2) varieties that develop flower buds during the short light periods only, most commercial varieties.
Strawberry requires a well-drained medium loam soil, rich in organic matter. The soil should be slightly acidic with pH from 5.7 to 6.5. At higher pH root formation is poor. The presence of excessive calcium in the soil causes yellowing of the leaves. In light soils and in those rich in organic matter, runner formation is better. Strawberry should not be cultivated in the same land for a number of years. It is preferable to plant it in green manured field. Alkaline soils and soils infected with nematodes should be avoided.
A large number of varieties are available. 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. The variety found successful in Bangalore has been named Bangalore and which has performed well at Mahabaleshwar also. For the north Indian plains, Pusa Early Dwarf which has dwarf plants, large firm wedge-shaped fruits, has been recommended. Another variety with rich aroma but softer fruits is Katrain Sweet. Some of the varieties found successful in warmer parts of the U.S.A. are: Premier Florida-90, Missionary, Blackmore, Klonmore & Klondike. Some of these may prove successful for cultivation in Indian plains.
Propagation is done by means of runners that are formed after the blooming season. The plants may be allowed to set as many runners as possible but not allowed to set any fruits. All the plants with good root system should be utilised to set a new plantation. Given the best attention and care, a single plant usually produces 12 to 18 runners.
The land for strawberry planting should be thoroughly prepared by deep ploughing followed by harrowing. Liberal quantities of organic manure should be incorporated in the soil before plating. Strawberry can be planted on flat beds, in the form of hill rows or matted rows, or it can be planted on raised beds. In irrigated areas, plantings on ridges is advised.
In Mahabaleshwar, the usual practice is to plant on raised beds 4 x 3 meters or 4 x 4 meters. The planting distance should be 45 cm from plant to plant and 60 to 75 cm. from row to row. In the hills, Transplanting is done in March-April, September-October, but in the plains, the months of January-February may be utilised for this purpose. At Mahabaleshwar normally strawberry is planted during November-December.
The plants should be set in the soil with their roots going straight down. The soil around the plant should be firmly packed to exclude air. The growing point of the plant should be just above the soil surface. During planting, the plants should not be allowed to dry out and should be irrigated immediately after planting.
Care of young plantation
The roots of strawberry plants spread out close to the surface. Therefore, the soil should be well supplied with moisture, and hoeing should be done lightly and young plantation be kept weed free.
Special horticultural practice
In cold climate the soil is covered with a mulch in winter to protect the roots from cold injury. The mulch keeps the fruits free from soil, reduces decay of fruits, conserves soil moisture, lowers soil temperature in hot weather, protects flowers from frost in mild climates and protects plants from freezing injury in cold climates. Several kinds of mulches are used, but the commonest one is straw mulch. The name strawberry has been derived from this fact. Black alkathine mulch is also used to cover the soil. It saves irrigation water, prevents the growth of weeds and keep the soil temperature high.
Since strawberry is relatively shallow-rooted, it is susceptible to conditions of drought. Planting early in autumn allows the plants to make good vegetative growth before the onset of winter. However, in this case it is necessary to ensure that newly planted runners are irrigated frequently after planting, otherwise the mortality of the plants becomes high. During September and October, irrigation should be given twice a week if there is no rain. It may be reduced to weekly intervals during November. In December and January, irrigation may be given once every fortnight. When fruiting starts, the irrigation frequency may should again be increased. At this stage frequent irrigation gives larger fruits.
Manure and Fertilizer
Strawberry requires moderate amounts of nitrogen. Addition of organic matter to the soil, in the form of 50 tons of Farm Yard manure per hectare is highly desirable. It improves the water holding capacity of the soil and also gives better runner formation. Farm yard manure may be supplemented by chemical fertilizers to make up the total quantity of nitrogen from 84 to 112 kg per hectare, Phosphorus 56 to 84 kg per hectare, and Potash 56 to 112 kg per hectare. The Phosphatic fertilizer should be incorporated into the soil before plantings. The nitrogenous fertilizer be applied in Two doses (Three weeks after planting and again at the time of flowering) and potash at the time of flowering only. Application of adequate amounts of nitrogen gives higher yield of early berries.
Red spider mites and cutworms are important pests of strawberry. The mites can be controlled with 0.05 per cent Monocrotophos + 0.25 per cent wetable sulphur. The cut worms can be controlled by dusting the soil before planting with 5 per cent chloradane or Heptachlor dust at the rate of 50 kg per hectare and mixing it thoroughly in the soil by cultivator.
The two commonest diseases of strawberry are red stele, caused by the fungus Phytophthora fragariae and black root rot. The remedy for the former lies by growing resistant varieties like stelemaster and for the latter to maintain the vigour of the plants and rotate strawberry with other crops like legume vegetables (beans, peas etc). Strawberry also suffers from virus diseases known as yellow edge, crinkle and dwarf. Raising of strawberry nursery in the hills helps to check these. Strawberry also throws some chlorotic plants, which result from genetic segregation. These should not be confused with virus affected plants and should be rogued out.
When Strawberry fruit got 50% -75% natural crimson colour starts harvesting. Harvesting Strawberry best time is in the morning. Strawberry harvested 3-4 times in the week. Strawberry fruit harvested in small trays or baskets.
The average yield obtained if the plant management and climatic conditions are conducive is approximately 500 – 600 gm/ plant/season.