Kajal Sahu, Dr. G.D. Sahu, Asha, Ajay Singh
Department of Fruit Science, COA, Indira Gandhi Krishi Vishwavidyalaya , Raipur (C.G.)

Strawberry (Fragariasp.) is a native of temperate regions, but varieties are available which can be cultivated in subtropical climate. Strawberry fruit is a rich source of antioxidant vitamin ‘C’, Iron, Potassium, and Fiber. It is also anticarcinogenic and anti diabetic.

Soil and climate For Strawberry Cultivation:- Strawberry prefers soil reasonably rich in humus because of 70-90% of its root found in the top 15cm soil. Strawberry plant performs best on the dry sandy soil. Heavy waterlogging soils are not suitable for strawberry cultivation. Soil with a pH between 5.5 – 7 and EC below 0.7mS/cm is ideal for strawberry cultivation.

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.

Suitable varieties of strawberry:- Grower should grow varieties which are resistant to pests and diseases , adapted to the desired climate remain productive over a long period , high yield and ability to retain size after the 3rd picking , good processing quality have good runnering capacity. Most suitable varieties are camarosa festival, ofra, sweet Charlie, chandler, elista, fair fox and seascape winter dawn.

Suitable varieties for Chhattisgarh: camarosa , red coat , haidar

Propagation:- Strawberry is propagated through runners , which is considered as natural vegetative propagation.

The stolon, a creeping stalk is produced in the leaf axils and grows out from the parent during summer. At the second node of stolon a runner plants is formed and a new stolon arises on the runner plants. Initiallyrunners plants produce fewer roots but thereafter put forth excessive fibrous roots. When acquire sufficient growth and roots, runners are separate from the mother plants and can be planted elsewhere.

Planting:- A separate bed should be used for runner production. The planting should be done at 1.2×1.2m or 1.8×1.8m distance. Usually 30-40 runners per plant are considered satisfactory rate of production. Rate of runner production can be enhanced by GA3 (50-100ppm) spray. For greater survival and fast growth, the runners should be lifted in September and planted in poly bags using the potting media of 1soil: 1sand: 2 FYM for one month.

Planting of strawberry and mulching:- Healthy runners with a medium to large crown and well developed root system are planted in hill row system either in single or double rows on 15-20cm raised beds with plant and row to row distance of 30×30-25cm and 90-120cm is kept between twin rows. The outer leaves should be striped off and soils of the roots of the runner should be washed.

Strawberry are rather exacting about the depth at which they must be planted. If the crown is set too shallow it will dry out, and if set too deep it may be smothered. Planting during mid September to mid October is best time in open conditions which does not require much special care for establishment.

Mulching in strawberry minimizes the freezing injury, suppresses weed growth and more importantly reduces the chances of softening of fruits. The commonly used mulching materials include clean straw, black and double coloured polythene. Mulching with black or double colour polythene material gives good weed control, advances early cropping and increasing total yield.

For pot culture of strawberry, soilless composts or those with low loam content , usually porous media is recommended, soil: sand: FYM in the ratio of 1:1:2 is considered as best potting media.

Freshly dug runners are planted from august to mid October to allow proper establishment and a good crop in the first summer but for getting fruits other than normal season planting time can be manipulated accordingly because one can be shift the bags/container in shade net or poly house whenever needed.

Irrigation in strawberry crop:- Frequent irrigation rather than a few heavy ones favors the crop. Express irrigation is detrimental in encouraging the growth of leaves and stolon at the expense of fruit and flower and increases the incidence of botrytis rot and makes the fruit soft. To minimize the water requirement, sprinkler and trickle or drip irrigation may be restored.

Nutrient management:- A dressing of bulky organic manure is most wanted aspects in strawberry cultivation. Organic manure applied in sufficient quality (70-80t/ha) may fulfil the nutritional requirement, if planted for annual cropping. The pre planting of 20tonnes of FYM and 20-40-20 NPK kg/ha and annual application of 40kg P/ha and 80kg K/ha is recommended to ensure a good crop of strawberry. In addition to recommended dose of manures and fertilizers foliar application of urea 2%,zinc sulphate 0.5%, calcium sulphate 0.5% , and boric acid 0.2%.

Pollination and fruit set in strawberry:- Most of the cultivars produce hermaphrodite flowers and are self fertile. However some also produce male or staminate, imperfect and pistilate flower, which requires cross pollination. Honeybee is the chief insects’ pollinators. Four strong honey bees colonies should be placed in the field / ha for effective pollination. A typical inflorescence bears primary, secondary, tertiary flowers.

Harvesting of strawberry and yield:- Berries are harvested when 50-75% skin of the berry develops colours. For long distance market, berries are harvested immediately after reaching full colour. Fruits are picked along with the caps or calyx and stalk, one to two inches from the calyx. During peak period, fruits should be picked daily or in alternate day. On an average the recommended varieties yield about 200-500g/plant.

Packaging of strawberry:- Storage of fresh strawberry , even for short periods is not recommended because of their high perishability. Due to its climacteric nature, it ripens very fast and get spoiled easily. The strawberries are packed in plastic punnets and are placed in the corrugated fibre trays or ventilated cardboard boxes.

Plant protection in strawberry:- Strawberry plants are affected by a number of pests and diseases but the severity may vary according to locality.

  • White grubs and cut worms– Cut the root and stem of young plants that can be control by deep ploughing and drenching the soil with chlorpyriphos@ 2ml/l water.
  • Root weevil- Make deep tunnels in the crown base and finally the plants collapse. Control measure are application of Carbofuran (6-10 kg/ha) and parathion (0.017 %) around the plants.
  • Verticillium wilt- The older leaves turn brown and shrivelled, finally plants may die, the proper crops relation besides soil fumigation with formalin (5000 L/ha) or chloropicrin (210 L /ha) are the precautionary measures.
  • Leaf spot complex- Spot of different shapes and sizes appears on the leaves which may drying and defoliated. 2-3 sprays of hexaconazole(0.5/L water) at 21 days intervals can check the disease.