The popularity of strawberry continues to increase due to its unlimited inclusivity in diverse range of diets. The most grown species is Fragaria vesca variety ananassa. The crop which is a low perennial growing above the ground has a short crown, leaves, flower trusses and stolon.
Strawberry can grow in almost every part of the country, however there must be constant supply of water and warm temperature. Farming of this crop can also be done in a container if land is not available.
The varieties that are currently recommended and available include: Chandler, Douglas and Aiko.
Ecological Requirements for Strawberry production
The crop requires a well distributed rainfall of at least 1200mm per year, however in places where this is not attainable then 25mm per week or irrigation is necessary.
Strawberry plants are shallow rooted and can grow in wide range of soil type. However, deep sandy-loam soils is ideal. The soil should be rich in humus, well drained and have pH range of 5.5-6.5.
Though production can take place in different areas, the ideal altitude is from 1500m-2200m above sea level.
Organic matter is key to realize high yield. They increase soil water holding capacity, maintains and improves soil structure hence favoring rapid and extensive rooting.
During planting put DAP fertilizer and CAN during flowering.
Plough and work the soil to get a deep and loose planting bed. Remove weeds and add manure and ash.
Obtain or propagate seedlings. An 1/8th acre land requires 3000 seedlings. Plant the strawberry seedlings at space of 30cm between plants and 45cm space between rows. Ensure you do regular watering.
Ensure proper hygiene of the field. This can be achieved by applying plastic mulch. Do regular pruning of old and diseased leaves.
It takes about 70 days for the crop to mature and produce the first fruits. They are picked when they are completely or nearly red in color though partly colored berries will color afterwards but will luck full flavor. Care should be taken not to injure the berries.
An 1/8th of an acre will produce 30-50 kg of strawberries per week. Because the fruit is highly perishable with only shelf like of 4-5 days after harvesting, it is advisable that you look for market early enough to avoid incurring losses.
Marketing Opportunities And Value Addition
strawberries can be eaten fresh. They have high demand in major urban market especially by grocery suppliers and supermarkets. Value addition includes: yorghut manufacture, ice cream manufacture, cake baking, jam manufacture among others.