Strawberry production: methods and machinery for maximum yield

Friday, 09 June 2023

Strawberry production: methods and machinery for maximum yield

Get maximum yield with effective strawberry growing methods and equipment

The strawberry is a false fruit, loved for its sweet and juicy taste and for its versatility in the kitchen: whether eaten fresh, used in desserts or processed into jams, strawberries are always a springtime delight.

The cultivation of strawberries in Italy has a long tradition and occupies a prominent position in the national horticulture
: in fact, thanks to the favorable climate and the different growing areas, Italy is able to offer high quality strawberries both for the domestic market and for export.

Among the most popular Italian varieties are the Pergola strawberry, grown in the Marche region, the San Pietro Vernotico strawberry, grown in Apulia, and the Nemi and Fondi strawberries, both produced in Latium. Not to mention the wild strawberries, a wild variety that grows in wooded areas of Italy and is highly prized by nature lovers.

But what are the best methods and machines for growing strawberries? In this article we will look at the most common methods and how they can be carried out with Cosmeco machinery.

How to Grow Strawberries?

There are several methods of growing strawberries, each with specific characteristics and advantages, allowing growers to choose the approach that best suits their needs and soil conditions. Generally, strawberries are planted in the spring, between March and April, depending on weather conditions and the growing area. However, it is important to choose a time when the soil is sufficiently warm and free from frost.

The most common methods include:

  1. Traditional ground cultivation, the most common method of growing strawberries directly in the soil: plants are planted in rows at a distance of about 60-80 cm and mulch is used to reduce soil erosion and maintain soil moisture.
  2. Raised beds: Strawberries are grown on raised beds, which are raised off the surrounding soil to improve soil drainage and root aeration. This is undoubtedly one of the most common and popular methods used by farms because it allows for increased soil yield and improved product quality.
  3. Cultivation in greenhouses: This allows to extend the production season and to protect the plants from the weather. In fact, greenhouses offer complete control over the environment, such as temperature, humidity and lighting. They also reduce the risk of disease and pests. With the right equipment, it is possible to grow strawberries in greenhouses and at high altitudes at the same time, combining two methods to take full advantage of the characteristics of both.
  4. Hydroponics: In hydroponics, strawberries are grown without soil. The plants are fed with a balanced nutrient solution that provides them with all the nutrients they need. This method offers complete control over growing conditions and allows for high yields in small spaces. However, it requires high initial costs and specific technical knowledge to properly manage the system.

Among the different methods of growing strawberries, the one that is most commonly used by growers and farms is the raised bed method, because it offers a number of advantages in terms of yield and product quality.

Let's take a look at how to grow strawberries on stilts and how to mulch them.

How and why to form a bed: the cultivation of strawberries on a raised bed

It is possible to cultivate on high ground by bed forming: this practice consists in creating, with the help of special horticultural bed formers, trapezoidal piles of soil which can vary in size and height depending on the variety of strawberries grown and the needs of the farm.

Compared to simple soil cultivation, bed forming provides:

  • Better soil drainage because it prevents excessive water accumulation around the roots of the strawberry plants, thus eliminating the risk of root rot and controlling weeds.

  • Easier management: Growing on raised beds simplifies strawberry management. In fact, raised beds allow easier access to the plants for transplanting, watering, fertilizing and harvesting.

  • Increased exposure to sunlight: Raised beds promote greater photosynthesis, more vigorous growth and uniform fruit ripening. In addition, increased sunlight helps reduce water stagnation, which helps prevent fungal diseases.

It is advisable to do the tilling after having worked the soil to a depth of at least 20 cm.

The use of bed formers makes it possible to create strips of soil with adjustable heights from 10 to 70 cm, with the possibility of creating strips of different widths for planting strawberries in double rows. Cosmeco's adjustable bed former are equipped with a gear-driven transmission and a frame that is adjustable in both height and width.

In addition, each rotor is equipped with different types of knives that ensure proper cultivation and even distribution of the soil, creating a raised bed that is compact on the outside but porous on the inside to promote root development.

They are also designed for maneuverability and adaptability to limited space. Their compact size and maneuverability make them easy to maneuver in greenhouses and tunnels, allowing for effective cultivation in confined spaces.

How to speed up strawberry mulching?

Mulching is the best way to control weeds and water evaporation from the soil, especially for strawberry plants, which have shallow and delicate roots that are easily damaged.

In general, mulching involves the application of plastic film or agrotextile TNT fiber fabric to the soil around the plants; when done manually, this operation is time-consuming and rather tiring, but with the use of specialized machinery, such as Cosmeco's mulch layers, it is possible to reduce the work time by up to a third compared to the manual system. In addition, these machines can be combined with bed former for an even faster but absolutely complete result.

Standard mulch layers are fully adjustable so they can be used for other crops. They can also be equipped with a microgranulator, fertilizer spreader, additional discs, hose spreader and more. Cosmeco's dedicated team can develop and implement fully customized designs upon request. For example, larger frames, additional accessories not listed as standard or special equipment can be provided to best meet the customer's specific needs.

Contact the company for more information!

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