Pune: The strawberry yield have adversely affected sinse for the second consecutive year, above normal winter temperatures over several parts of the country, including Mahabaleshwar, Haryana and Jammu & Kashmir.
According to Agriculture ministry estimates, the production of the fruit in India has dropped by 40% from 8,000 metric tonnes in 2014-15 to around 5,000 metric tonnes in both 2015-16 and 2016-17.
The reduced production was due to above normal winter temperature and issues concerning the mother plant imported from California to grow the fruit, said sources from the All India Strawberry Growers' Association.
Mahabaleshwar is Maharashtra's major strawberry growing belt and according to the ministry's data, in a normal season, strawberries are grown on close to 2,000 acres of land in Mahabaleshwar. Close to 20,000 tonnes of strawberries are grown in and around Mahabaleshwar during a normal season, sinse the usual per-acre production stands at 7 to 10 tonnes.
The president of the All India Strawberry Growers' Association, Nitin Bhilare said, “The yield has dipped by 40% over the last two years, primarily due to the warm winters in 2015 and 2016 as well as the non-availability of mother plants. To grow strawberries, each year Mahabaleshwar imports close to 7.5 lakh mother plants. But only four lakh such mother plants were imported in 2016.“
He also said that, as the warm winters are affecting the quality and causing a low yield, several farmers have refrained from planting strawberries. Mahabaleshwar strawberry is a seasonal fruit that grows in October-November and April-May.
For a few months, temperatures in Mahabaleshwar have been fluctuating. In November, the hill station recorded its highest temperature (29°C) for the month in eight years. Senior coordinator of the Krishi Vigyan Kendra at Sadalpur, Sunil Dhanda said that, Saharwa village in Haryana's Hisar district, a major strawberry hub in North India, also saw a dip in its yield.
Chikaldara is one of the hill station in the Vidharba region. Local farmers grown strawberries for the
first time. Strawberry faming has featured prominently on the region’s development plans charted
out by the Maharashtra government.
To educate the local farmers about the specifics and benefits of strawberry farming various schemes
like training sessions and supplementary support has been provided in the region. This is expected to
provide sustainable livelihood for the farmers.
Paraag Jaiin Nainuttia, managing director, Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC)
said that Chikhaldara is a charming hill station rich with wildlife, natural scenery, lakes and
waterfalls. We are elated at this historical development in the region. We are positive that the
government’s efforts towards creating viable conditions for strawberry farming will provide a boost
to small, local businesses who will be able to sustain themselves on strawberry farming and its by-
products. The pristine beauty of Chikhaldara makes it an ideal holiday destination. We are optimistic
that encouraging strawberry farm tours as a tourism attraction in the near future will add to the
appeal of the destination.
University of Florida has developed web-based monitoring system, known as the Strawberry
Advisory System (SAS). The SAS- Strawberry Advisory System mobile app monitors real-time and
forecast weather conditions that increase the risk for Botrytis and anthracnose fruit rots, providing
risk level information for each disease.
The system uses data such as temperature and leaf wetness to tell growers when to spray fungicide to ward off diseases. The system can help the environment by using less chemical treatment to prevent strawberry diseases.
The SAS- Strawberry Advisory System app is currently available for download through the official app stores for mobile devices with iOS and Android operating systems. The app is designed to be easy to use, so it contains only the essential functionality available in the web-based SAS.
Before SAS was developed, strawberry farmers traditionally sprayed weekly during the November- to-March growing season. Spraying more often than needed increases production costs and can lead to fungicide resistance.
Bathinda: From Muktsar district three progressive farmers decided to veer off the path of conventional crops to try something exotic in their fields. They tried strawberry cultivation and succeeded in a farming belt known more for cotton and strawberry crop rotation.
Jaskaran (40), Ravinder (32) and Sunny (31) hailing from Kauni village in Giddarbaha sub-division, have become the first farmers in Malwa region of Punjab to cultivate strawberry.
They says that even Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) agriculture scientists are approaching them to explore the idea of strawberry cultivation in other parts of the state.
The three say they were exploring other options in farming when they met Surinder Singh. Surinder Singh is a farmer from Hisar in Haryana, he exhorted them to grow strawberries. Following his advice, they sowed the first strawberry crop in September and the fruit is ready for picking now. Now other farmers also follow their footsteps.
They started their experiment by growing strawberry in Jaskaran's one-acre plot and spent nearly Rs 5 lakh for that. they three all are undergraduates and own 25 acres of land each in Kauni.
They said "More than a year ago, we had come to know that a farmer in Gurdaspur was into strawberry farming, but we failed to get much information about the best way to grow the fruit. Then we came across Surinder, who provided us strawberry seeds. We spent Rs 2 lakh in purchasing the seeds, and installed a sprinkler and drip irrigation system in the field to sow it. About 24,000 small plants of strawberry seeds were sown in one acre in the middle of September, when the temperature was hovering at nearly 30-degree Celsius."
"For strawberry cultivation, the temperature was maintained at nearly 25°C. For the first 20 days, we irrigated it using the sprinkler and after that we opted for drip irrigation," said Jaskaran about the initial effort to grow the berry.
The fruit was ready and they expected it to yield around 70 quintals, said Ravinder. he also said "We are marketing our produce to fruit dealers of Bathinda and Muktsar at nearly Rs 150 per kg, and expect to sell the total yield for over Rs 10 lakh - twice our input cost."
"We hope more farmers can take to strawberry cultivation and earn handsomely inspired from their success story," said Sukhdev Singh, Mukstar horticulture development officer (HDO).
After a successful trial last year, strawberry growers in the Mahabaleshwar-Panchgani area of Maharashtra are going exports to Malaysia this season. According to Strawberries Growers Association of India chairman Balasaheb Bhilare, in last year, on a trial basis four consignments were sent to Malaysia .This year there has been a demand from the country.
The association plans to send around 25 tonne of strawberries to Malaysia this year and is also exploring options to send strawberries to neighbouring countries as well, Bhilare said.
This year, around 3,000 acres have been planted and the yield was expected to touch 30,000 tonne. The association was expecting surplus yield since farmers had planted strawberries on an additional 1,000-1,500 acres.
Satara district famous for the country’s 80% strawberry production. The fruit is grown mainly in Mahabaleshwar, Wai and Panchagani areas.
The Panchgani-Mahabaleshwar belt contributes around 85% of the total production in the country. The rest comes from Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.
There is rise in demand from markets in Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad. Near about 15-20 tonne of strawberries find their way to Chennai and Bangalore. This year, there is demand from Delhi and Kolkata as well.
Source: http:// www.financialexpress.com/
Savi Thangavel, a 60-year-old farmer near Hingna, Nagpur who last summer pioneered
'Dates' cultivation in his farm, has experimented with another fruit, strawberry, with amazing success. Usually, both these fruits do not
grow in the region but a hard worker Thangavel has made it possible.
"I had been to Aberdeen in Scotland last year to attend wedding of a friend's daughter. The family had a huge strawberry farm next to their house. They offered us fresh fruits from there. I loved the taste and that very moment I decided to try growing them in my farm. But since I was already preoccupied with Date cultivation, I waited for the right time and tried strawberry cultivation this October," Thangavel said.
He is growing the 'Sweet Charlie' variety. Strawberry is a fruit which grows in the hills in India. His passion for experimentation motivated him to give it a try. He got the tissue cultured samplings from a Pune-based company, KF Bioplants Ltd, for Rs30, 000 for half an acre.
He took professional guidance on the cultivation methodology from Ajay Gajbhiye from the company. Strawberry grows well in certain soil conditions which have the right amount of micro and macronutrients. Fruit was sold at 300/kg
Like all other crops, strawberries from the famous Mahabaleshwar- Panchgani of
Maharashtra are also affected due to rain shortage this season. The newly-begun season is not going to last long and is likely to collapse
after December, Babasaheb Bhilare, chairman, Strawberries Growers Association of India (SGAI), said. The season usually lasts till March.
In Last year, strawberry growers had exported strawberry to Malaysia on a large scale compared to this year. No export is done as production is reduced and this season is also short.
“The start of the season has been good so far with around 20-30 tonne of strawberries finding their way to the markets this year. However, nobody can predict what will happen next because of the water situation,” he said.
He said that nobody can predict what will happen next because of the water situation,” he said. Strawberry cultivation requires water later in the season as well. The fruit is selling at around R150 per kg this year and prices are likely to remain on the higher side, Bhilare added.
There has been a rise in acreage to around 3,000 acres but weather conditions and water shortage has affected production rise. Last year as well, production came down by 25-30% as compared with the previous year to 22,000 metric tonne, as against an expected production of 30,000 metric tonne at the start of the season. This year, around 3,000 acres has been planted and the production d was expected to get 30,000 tonne.
It would be difficult to predict the trends in the coming months, he added. The rate usually falls to R50 kg towards the end of the season in January. Satara district accounts for the country's 80 % strawberry production and the fruit is grown mainly in Mahabaleshwar, Wai and Panchagani areas.
Because of above normal winter temperature luscious Mahabaleshwar strawberries are not as juicy and fewer in number this year.
The production of strawberries in hill station of Mahabaleshwar has decreased almost by 50% this winter because of high temperature, resulting in bad quality strawberries reaching markets in Chennai, Bangalore, Gujarat and Mumbai.
Prices also have decreased significantly in comparison to the last year, said a source in the Strawberry Growers' Association of India.
Shivaji Chaugule, the block agriculture officer of Mahabaleshwar, said the winter had set in late this year, affecting the size of strawberries as well as the production. "The production for the entire strawberry season - from November 2015 till April 2016 - may ultimately come down by 50%. The strawberry production cycle, which continues for six months, may be cut short after February because of water shortage," he said.
Strawberry (Fragaria sp.) is a native of temperate regions, but varieties are available which
can be cultivated in subtropical climate. In India it is generally cultivated in the
hills. Its main center of cultivation are Nainital (district) and Dehradun in Uttar
Pradesh, Mahabaleshwar (Maharashtra), Kashmir Valley, Bangalore and Kalimpong (West
Bengal). In recent years, strawberry is being cultivated successfully in plains of
Maharashtra around Pune, Nashik and Sangali towns. The strawberry is the most widely
adapted of the small fruits. Strawberries are grown throughout Europe, in every state of
the United States, as well as in Canada and South America. The wide variation in climates
within these regions and the wide adaptation of the strawberry plant permit harvesting and
marketing, the fruit during greater part of the year.
Strawberry is a delicious fruit taken fresh in several ways. It also makes excellent ice cream and Jam on account of its rich aroma, and is also a good source of vitamin C. It is a soft and a highly perishable fruit, often shipped in frozen condition in Western countries.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The fruit ripens during late February to April in the plains and during May and June at high
elevations like Mahabaleshwar, Nainital and Kashmir. For local market the fruit should be
harvested when fully ripe, but for transport to distant markets, it should be harvested
when still firm and before colour has developed fully all over the fruit. Harvesting
should be done preferably daily. Since fruit is highly perishable, it is packed in flat
shallow containers of various types (cardboard, bamboo, paper trays etc.) with one or two
layers of fruits. Harvesting should be done early in the morning in dry conditions.
Washing the fruit bruises it and spoils its lustre.
The yield varies according to season and locality. A yield of 20 to 25 tons per hectare is excellent, though yields upto 50 tons per hectare have been reported under ideal conditions.
Strawberries are highly perishable and hence a great deal of care in harvesting and handling as well as its marketing also requires to be organised carefully. Usually the fruit is picked in the early morning and sent to the market in the afternoon of the same day or is picked in the late afternoon, stored overnight in a cool place, and sent to market the following morning.