Strawberry produces sweet and juicy fruits with bright red color and aroma. They can be consumed fresh or in foods such as preserves and pies. Since the industry is not developed, farmers in different parts of the country have been reluctant to get into strawberry farming. Although the industry is growing at a slow rate, strawberry farming is a huge income potential that farmers are encouraged to venture into.
Conditions necessary for the Strawberry Farming
Rainfall: Strawberry requires moderate and well-distributed rainfall ranging from 1200mm-1500mm per annum. However, in dry areas, it can be practiced under irrigation.
Soils: Strawberry plants can be grown in a wide range of soils. They, however, perform best in sandy-loamy soils. These soils should be well-drained, fertile, and have a pH ranging from 5.5-6.5.
Altitude: The ideal altitude for strawberry farming ranges from 1500m-2200m above sea level. They can still thrive in low altitude areas.
Temperatures: Strawberries require cool temperatures ranging from 20C to 300C.
Sunlight: Strawberries require at least 6-8 hours of sunlight per day.
Spacing and Planting
Strawberry farming requires capital depending on the spacing and size of land to be put under strawberry farming. The strawberry plants should be between 30cm to 60 cm apart. A spacing of 90cm to 120cm between the rows is recommended. One acre can accommodate between 15,000 – 25,000 plants depending on the spacing.
Strawberry orchards should weed-free.
Strawberry varieties grown in Kenya include:-
- Tioga Selva
Strawberry takes about 70 days to mature. The fruits are ripe and ready for harvesting 4-6weeks after flowering. Only fully ripened berries should be harvested. Harvesting unripe fruits should be avoided since they do not ripen once they are harvested.
Pests and Diseases
Pests affecting strawberry include;
- Slugs and snails
- Red spidermites
- Crown borers
Diseases affecting strawberry include;
- Leaf spots
- Verticillium and Fusarium wilt
- Grey mould
- Sclerotinia disease
- Leaf scorch
- Leaf blight
- Powdery mildew
Production and output
1/4 of an acre yields 60-100 kg of strawberries per week. This means that an acre will produce 240kg – 400kg per week. With a minimum price of Ksh 150 per kilo, a farmer can earn a minimum of Ksh36,000 per week. Prices can hike up to Ksh 350 per kilo. Strawberries have a short shelf life of about 4-5 days and hence it’s recommended to look for market earlier before harvesting.
Price per seedling
At Oxfarm Strawberry seedlings cost between Ksh Ksh 50.
Strawberry farming is one of the ventures that farmers can make huge profits in agribusiness. Oxfarm Ltd helps farmers start their strawberry farming investment with an enticing and low-cost package.
The package costs
The package consists of;
- Free consultancy
- Organic manure (earthlee) (Discounted at 50%)
- Certified strawberry seedlings
- Market connection
- Lifetime agronomy support
The demand for strawberry is high especially in supermarkets, major urban markets, and marketing companies such as Zesta, KCC, Brookside, and Trufood. These companies use strawberries when making jams, yogurt, juices, sauces, and other supplies. Locally, fruits are used for baking and home consumption. This shows that there is a ready market for strawberries locally and internationally.