Strawberries are sweet, red heart shaped fruit which has a delicious taste and has numerous nutritional benefits. Packed with vitamins fiber, and particularly high levels of antioxidants known as polyphenols, strawberries are a sodium free, fat free, cholesterol free, and a low calorie food. Eight strawberries provide more vitamin c than an orange.
Health Benefits of Strawberries
- Reduce high blood pressure. Strawberries are rich in potassium and magnesium and low in sodium which helps in reducing high blood pressure.
- Boost immunity. Strawberries are highly packed with vitamin c.
- Help in preventing cancer. Have many flavonoids that act as excellent antioxidants.
- Boost brain function. Rich in vitamin c, iodine and phytochemicalswhich help in maintaining the proper functioning of the nervous system.
- May lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- Reduces the risk of eye related ailments.
June-bearing Strawberry Varieties:
June bearers are tremendously popular and common. They typically produce the largest strawberries, and do so over a period of two to three weeks, on average. Most June bearing strawberry varieties produce a harvest around the month of June, hence the name. However, strawberry varieties are further classified into Early Season, Midseason, and Late Season. By selecting strawberry plant varieties that produce during different parts of the season, you can prolong your harvest and enjoy fresh strawberries for an extended period of time.
Ever-bearing Strawberry Varieties:
Ever-bearing strawberries aren’t really “ever bearing.” They generally produce two harvests per year: one in the spring and another in the late summer or fall. Under ideal conditions, it is possible for some ever bearing varieties to produce three berry harvests. In general, overbearing varieties put out less runners than the June bearing varieties, as most of the plants productive energy is directed toward producing multiple strawberry harvests.
Day-neutral strawberry varieties:
Day neutral strawberry plants are unique. Unlike June bearing varieties, day neutral strawberries will produce a good yield in the first year they are planted. They will still be producing fruit in October during milder years. The drawback to day neutral strawberry plants is that they produce smaller strawberries than do the June bearing and ever bearing strawberry varieties. Their fruit is usually small to medium in size, rarely exceeding one inch.
Best Performing Strawberries
Here are some of the best performing types of strawberries,
Albion – Very resistant to disease, large, firm fruit, numerous runners (Day Neutral)
Tillamook – Resistant to some disease, fruit is excellent for preserves or eating out of hand (Early)
Northeaster – Large fruits and high yield (Early)
Elsanta – Not resistant to some diseases but large, firm, sweet fruit (Day Neutral)
Jewel – Big firm fruit, some resistance to leaf disease, moderate runners (Everbearing)
Earliglow – Resistant to leaf and root diseases, very flavorful berries (Early)
Quinalt – Resistant to many diseases, large, soft fruit (Everbearing)
These are but a few varieties from which to choose, but your local extension or nursery can arm you with the optimum choices for your region. In addition, you may prefer to plant native strawberries. These make excellent ground covers and are hardy and resistant to most diseases. Native strawberry types include:
a) Alpine strawberry
b) European strawberry
c) Fraises de Boise
d) Woodland strawberry
e) Wild strawberry
Strawberry plants are usually planted 18 to 24 inches apart in rows 36 to 48 inches apart. Spacing decisions depend on the size of your land. Growers should purchase cultivars resistant to red stele and verticillum wilt from a reputable nursery.
Flower blossoms should be removed during the first season. This practice sacrifices the first year’s crop, but it enables growers to establish a bed of vigorous plants. It is especially important to closely monitor and control pests in the first year.
Yields of day-neutral varieties are typically higher than those of June bearers because of the extended harvest season.
Strawberries must be picked and handled very carefully. Berries are harvested at least three times per week. The fruit must be firm, well colored, and free from rot.
When harvested at the right time and handled properly, strawberries will remain in good condition for a few days.
Several insect pests and diseases can cause crop losses; therefore, it’s important to monitor and control pests. Some pests affect the flowers and fruit, while others attack the foliage, stems, crowns, and roots of the plant. Proper scouting and efficient monitoring must be enhanced.
Weeds must be controlled, as strawberries have shallow root systems that put them at a disadvantage when competing for water and nutrients. Proper and timely weeding should be put into practice. Strawberry farming is very profitable when planted under ideal conditions.