8 Tips for Growing Strawberries Commercially
Growing strawberries can be a very profitable alternative to traditional crop farming. Sadly, a lot of farmers decide to make this transition and then go bust. There are a lot of steps when growing them, which means that there are a lot of things that can also go wrong. But don’t be dismayed, Kennco has been manufacturing strawberry farm equipment for over 45 years to make farming strawberries commercially faster, better and cheaper.
So, if you think you're ready to give it a shot, keep reading for 8 tips on growing strawberries. If you have any questions, we’re here to help – feel free to contact us!
Tips For Growing Strawberries
Growing Conditions Strawberries need around 50-80 degrees Fahrenheit and less than 14 hours of sunlight to grow properly. This prime weather usually occurs in the Winter, Spring, and Fall. Farmers usually start preparing their land around late August to plant the plants. Strawberry plants usually have two to three growing cycles that can be interrupted due to freezes but, we'll get to that later. For now, let's get down to how to prepare the land.
Preparing The Land First thing's first, you have to plow and fertilize the land. After you do this, you have to mound the soil into beds and cover them with black plastic mulch. We recommend using our strawberry bedder gasser combo unit which puts prepares the soil in one pass. When the plastic is laid, drip tape irrigation is placed in the ground at the same time. The drip tape is used to make sure the plants are watered and fertilized as they grow and produce. All of these tasks have to be performed with a specialized tractor attachments. That’s where Kennco comes in. The disc bedders turn the soil, the bed shapers raise the dirt into the perfect bed rows and can even leave a drip line for the drip tape. We even have combo tractor implements that do multiple steps at once!
Planting The Crop After the ground is prepared it's time to get to the heart of the matter, planting the strawberry plants. This usually happens about two weeks after the black plastic mulch has been laid using a plastic mulch layer. When it's time, a tractor will go through and punch holes in the plastic at exact intervals using a strawberry hole punch machine. Workers ride behind the tractor on a strawberry transplanter and place the strawberry plants in the punched holes.
The Winter Months During the winter months, it's important to still make sure the plants are watered and fertilized appropriately. The drip tape will help with that, but more so than watering and fertilizing, you will have to worry about freezing temperatures and chilling winds. Place row covers over the plants when these frosts happen to save your plants from any cold damage. Do this, and you should start getting blooms around April or June depending on what climate you're planting them in.
Dealing With Pests If left uncontrolled, insects and mites can kill your plants. Depending on the pest the berry, leaves, and root system can be affected. For insects that can't be controlled by predators use insecticides with organophosphates, methomyl or pyrethroids. Anything that is labeled as safe for crops will do. Take precaution against these pests to make sure you don't lose the crop you worked so hard on. Most farmers use a boom sprayer like this one to apply fertilizers and pesticides on their crops.
Pollinating The Plants The strawberry flowers have to be pollinated to ensure that you will get plump and full fruit. Since honey has such a universal need, many strawberry growers have a side business selling honey. The hives that they maintain house the honey bees necessary to keep the crops pollinated. The extra money made from selling the honey isn't a bad trade-off either. It generates a ton of additional revenue. Once you've got your plants pollinated, providing that you've taken good care of them through the season, they will be ready to harvest in no time.
Harvesting The Plants Once strawberries start to ripen they continue to do so at a pretty fast rate. Daily actually, so you will need to keep a staff ready to harvest them. The amount of staff you will need will vary but usually, it's around 65-70 workers depending on the size of the harvest. The first strawberries will ripen depending on the climate in which you're growing them and the weather. Usually, you will see it happen around late March through mid-June. Those are all the basic tips for growing strawberries commercially there are a few additional tips that we would like to leave you with.
Additional Tips Many commercial farms test their strawberries throughout the growing season to make sure they're getting the nutrients that they need to produce the best strawberries. You will take leaf samples weekly or bi-weekly and send them away for testing. If you're located in a state that has a high amount of strawberry farms, you will be offered testing at state university laboratories. This testing is actually really important, too little or too little fertilizer will alter the taste of and ripping of the berries. A pump station is used by a lot of commercial growers. The station will make sure that your plants get the nutrients your plant needs through the drip irrigation lines laid down when the plastic mulch was laid. This is a great extra measure to ensure the water you use is filtered and tested to meet USDA specifications.
This article is not intended to be a comprehensive how-to for growing strawberries commercially. However, there is quite a bit of equipment that you'll need to get started. For that, we have you covered with the different farm equipment you will need to grow strawberries including ground prep, planting strawberries and clean-up!
Growing Strawberries commercially can be a lot of work, but can really pay off in the end. Bring in extra revenue by also investing in a honey hive. The bees will pollinate your plants and selling the honey will pay off. Strawberry plants will need this pollination, and many other steps to ensure a fruitful season.
The time will come when you need replacement parts for your strawberry growing equipment. We have you covered for all of your needs.
Disclaimer: Use of the information presented in this article is at the sole risk of the reader and Kennco Manufacturing, Inc. takes no liability for that use.