Starting a Strawberry Farm: What to Know
Starting a strawberry farm requires a special interest in strawberry farming and selling, years of experience in strawberry growing and a lot of capital. Strawberry planting and harvesting can often take up to 1 year, as the process involves a lot of plot pre-planning, budgetary analysis and soil and land preparation.
To raise an acre of strawberries, you’ll need at least $1,000 to begin. If you do not already own a piece of land, you will need to factor in the costs of not only the land acquisition, but any taxes and insurance that go alongside it. Additionally, there will be immediate expenses in the form of seeds, fertilizer, pesticide, labor, and overhead.
To properly farm the land, a tractor, spreader, bedder, pickup truck, irrigation system, mowers and sprayers are recommended. Due to the high cost of these pieces, a lot of farmers choose to rent instead of buy. This can be a good option, especially if you are unsure that strawberry farming will be successful and sustainable for you in the long-term. One of the biggest tasks in strawberry farming is installing the irrigation and sprinkler systems, so it’s important to understand the process thoroughly. The majority of farmers use drip irrigation, as it reduces the amount of water needed, controls weeds in the field and allows a grower to apply plant nutrition straight to the root zone. All of these practices promote uniformity of crop growth.
Cool, moist nights, along with cool, sunny days are the ideal climate for strawberries. While thriving in a wet environment, strawberries are susceptible to fungal and bacterial diseases caused by excess moisture. Consequently, it’s best if they are planted in areas where there is a constant, drying breeze. Wind flow must be gentle, however, since a heavy wind can damage flowers and rub leaves against the fruit, causing chafing and bruising.
Basics of Cultivation
Before you get started planting, you should first do a soil test. The ideal type of soil for strawberries is sandy loam, because it retains nutrients and allows water to spread easily. The soil should contain a pH of 6, and it may be necessary to broadcast lime to adjust the pH level. Heavy clay soils also work if they drain well and if salts in the water are very low, as strawberries are salt-sensitive and grow best where there’s water with low-dissolved salts. After any soil corrections have been made, you will need to fertilize and fumigate to prevent weed growth. Any fungicides or insecticides you may want to use should be applied after the strawberries are growing.
Starting a strawberry farm can be rewarding, but because of the complexity involved, intense preparations are necessary. To be successful in your venture, it’s crucial to develop a business plan containing all necessary facets of the farm. These should include the orchard layout, the farming timetable, types of strawberries to be planted, marketing strategy and the financial analysis.