Growing Strawberries In Greenhouse/Strawberry Production in India
Strawberry (Fragaria vesca) is an important fruit crop of India and it belongs to the Rose family. Commercial production of Strawberry is possible in temperate and sub-tropical areas of the country. Strawberry is a species of great economic importance and high added value in the horticultural sector at national and international levels.
Can you grow Strawberries in a greenhouse? Yes, you can, and you can be able to enjoy fresh-picked greenhouse Strawberries before and after the regular harvest.
Strawberries are one of the most in-demand fruit in India because of their all-year-round availability. Strawberries are cultivated in greenhouses in many parts of the world. A greenhouse will protect the crops from heavy rain and strong wind while providing enough heat to encourage out-of-season fruit-bearing. In this article we also discuss the below topics about greenhouse Strawberry;
- Growing Strawberries in Greenhouse year-round
- Do Strawberries do well in a Greenhouse?
- How often do you water Strawberries in a greenhouse
- Can you grow Strawberries year-round in a greenhouse structure?
- How much time it takes to Grow Strawberries in a greenhouse
- Grow Strawberries in a greenhouse in the winter
- Common problems with growing Strawberries in Greenhouse
- How can I maximize my Strawberry production or yield
A Step by Step Guide to Growing Strawberries in Greenhouse
Greenhouse Strawberry has a distinct set of criteria for good growth and crop yield. Strawberry plants required a medium range of temperature levels. Strawberry cultivation in the greenhouse is a better option because the Strawberry fruit’s quality and quantity are much better than outside Strawberry cultivation. In India, Strawberry crops are cultivated in Mahabaleshwar, Ooty, Idukki, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, and India’s northeast state.
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In the greenhouse system, Strawberry crops grow throughout the years. Strawberry fruit is a rich source of Iron, Potassium, vitamin ‘C, and fiber. But greenhouse production of Strawberries not only fills consumer demand but also helps growers maintain their cash flow. If you already have a greenhouse system, Strawberry production is a logical way to increase your revenues and lengthen your season. Greenhouse growing Strawberry has many advantages such as increased yield, relatively easier pest management, as well as better fruit quality. A temperature of about 15°C must be maintained until the plants start to flower.
Varieties of Strawberries for Greenhouse Farming
Generally, different varieties of Strawberries can respond differently in the same greenhouse system, and the same variety of Strawberries can respond differently to different greenhouse production systems. Only a few varieties with a certain set of qualities will give a big harvest;
- Self-pollinated means setting fruits without insects, because putting a beehive with bees in a winter greenhouse is rather difficult and too expensive, and it is not rational to pollinate thousands of inflorescences yourself.
- Varieties of the neutral day (they bear fruit continuously, tying fruit buds every 5 to 6 weeks).
- Varieties with lying, transportable, and leveled berries.
It is important to remember that before planting in the greenhouse system Strawberry seedlings must be trained and tested.
Choosing the best Strawberry varieties for greenhouse growing is the first step in ensuring a successful and long-lasting harvest.
Tristar – Some varieties such as “Tristar” are day-neutral, setting fruit regardless of the length of daylight. If you plant “Tristar” Strawberries in trays in the greenhouse in early spring, they can produce fruit throughout the summer and under controlled greenhouse temperatures. “Tristar” produces especially high yields of exceptionally sweet and flavorful fruit.
Selva – The variety “Selva” is another day-neutral Strawberry variety that grows well in a greenhouse and that produces unusually large berries. “Selva” plant needs hand pollination when in flower to ensure fruit production. Alternatively, you can introduce a nest of natural pollinators such as bumblebees into your greenhouse.
Albion – “Albion” is a day-neutral variety and it produces Strawberries with unusually high sugar content. It is especially resistant to several fungal diseases that can be a problem in a greenhouse where humidity tends to be high, including verticillium wilt, which causes leaves and flowers to drop, and several types of crown rot that can destroy plants.
Jewel – “Jewel” is an unusually productive Strawberry variety that also has fruit with a strong and sweet flavor. It can be successfully grown in a greenhouse.
Principle of Greenhouse Technology
Every greenhouse system operates on a simple physical principle called “the greenhouse effect”. Sunlight passes through transparent or translucent materials like glass or plastic. When it strikes an opaque surface inside (plant leaves, greenhouse floor, and planters) light energy is changed into heat. The greenhouse is covered by transparent material such as polyethylene or glass or polycarbonate. Significant fractions of the incoming solar radiation are absorbed by crops and objects on earth. Then, such structures in effect emit thermal radiations of long waves for which the cladding material has low transparency. Thus, inside the greenhouse longwave, thermal radiation is trapped, which raises the temperature inside. This is known as the greenhouse effect. Since this temperature rises within greenhouses, it is possible to grow off-season crops in a cold climate. During the summer months, the temperature is reduced to low by providing cooling equipment in greenhouses. Depending on transparency, the greenhouse cover allows solar radiation to pass through but traps thermal radiation emitted by the objects within, thus increasing the inside temperature termed as the greenhouse effect.
Ways to Growing Strawberries in Greenhouse
The yield and rate of return of the greenhouse mainly depend on which Strawberry planting method you choose. On average, you can pick up to 60 kg of berries for a year from 1 square meter of Strawberry planting. But this figure is reached by experienced farmers, and newcomers in the first couple of years can only rely on a 50% result.
Soil Requirement for Growing Strawberries in Greenhouse
In case if you miss this: Organic Coconut Farming In India.
Strawberry crop performs best on the dry sandy soil and heavy waterlogging soils are not suitable for Strawberry cultivation. Soil with a pH level between 5.5 – 7 and EC below 0.7mS/cm is ideal for greenhouse Strawberry cultivation. Optimal growth practices for protected Strawberries are formed under different protection conditions that range from low- and high-plastic tunnels to plastic- and glass-greenhouses, equipped with the most modern production inputs, functioning during off-seasons.
Rules to Get Profits from Growing Strawberries in Greenhouse
Your greenhouse doesn’t have to be kept at tropical temperature levels. Strawberries like it cool. To keep Strawberries at 7°C at night and they prefer a temperature around 23°C during the day. A minimum-heat house is good enough. More control over temperature levels is always better. You can always improve temperature control. Cool nighttime temperatures while plants are fruiting maintain fruit quality.
Pollination – Under greenhouse conditions, the activity of natural agents such as wind, honeybees, and other insects is highly restricted by the protective structure. Usually, bumblebees provide good pollination for Strawberry plants and they perform much better than hand pollination or honeybees. So, the use of bumblebees is essential to ensure good pollination.
CO2 enrichment in greenhouses – CO2 enrichment of the greenhouse atmosphere markedly increases crop yield. Artificial CO2 concentrations of about 400 ppm to 900 ppm, accompanied by increased light intensity, increased total yield by 8.7% to 31%, due to higher individual fruit size, and increased number of fruits.
Temperature Requirements for Growing Strawberries in Greenhouse
Strawberries love to flower in cool to warm weather conditions. The temperature must not go over 25ºC because higher temperatures can negatively impair the growth and kill the pollens. Keep the greenhouse temperature level around 18-25°C until they start flowering. Once you have picked the Strawberries, decrease the temperature level inside your greenhouse so that it stays cold throughout winter. A cool phase is very important to stimulate them to flower the next season. Strawberries grown in greenhouses prefer day temperatures below 25ºC. The ideal temperature range for greenhouse Strawberries is 18ºC -24ºC.
The temperature shouldn’t go much above 25ºC because higher temperatures can negatively affect growth. Night temperature is much more important for Strawberries. Then, try to maintain night temperatures between 10ºC-12ºC. If the greenhouse system cannot be cooled to 15ºC or lower at night, fruit quality is going to be drastically affected. The Strawberry starts to get mealy or soft. The texture, sweetness, and acidity are all affected by the temperature level.
Ensuring Adequate Light Levels for Growing Strawberries in Greenhouse
You must provide a minimum daily light integral (DLI) of 12 moles per square meter per day inside the greenhouse for producing Strawberries. Light levels below 12 moles are most likely too low for Strawberry crops. They must receive at least 6 hours of daylight every day, some varieties need up to 12 hours. Choose the greenhouse site appropriately and ensure the greenhouse kits you buy allow adequate light. With lessened light and photosynthetic movement, the trees cannot bear many fruits.
Equipment for Growing Strawberries in Greenhouse
The most expensive in the greenhouse Strawberry cultivation is the construction of the greenhouse and its equipment.
In addition to the greenhouse you will need;
- Phytolamps or fluorescent lamps capable of providing 10 to 14 hour light days for landings;
- Drip irrigation system;
- Fans that ensure air movement;
- Thermometer and hygrometer (temperature and humidity sensor);
- Racks, pots, and drawers (for multi-level planting).
Conditions for Growing Strawberries in Greenhouse
- Strawberries require a lot of heat and light and produce best in warm, dry conditions while being exposed to at least 6 hours of sunlight a day. Ensure that greenhouse windows are clean and not obstructed by anything that can block out any natural light.
- It mainly depends on the conditions for growing bushes how soon the first flowers and ovaries will appear on the Strawberries. As a rule, special conditions for Strawberry planting and growing are required for each variety. But there are general rules for all that guarantee a good harvest.
- During transplanting, the temperature in the greenhouse must be 10-12°C; during the growth of greenery it is raised to 20°C, and by flowering to 24°C.
- The optimum humidity in the greenhouse system is about 85% at the time of planting and not more than 70% at the flowering of Strawberries.
- Drip watering for Strawberries is necessary.
- In addition to the windows for ventilation, which can be opened in the summer season and at a positive temperature, the system of forced ventilation must be considered for the wintertime.
- A Strawberry plant needs a light day lasting at least 8 hours. Under these conditions, it will bloom in 2 weeks after planting and will tie the berries in 6 weeks. If the daylight is doubled, the first flowers will appear within 10 days, and the berries 35 to 37 days. Strawberries must be supplemented continuously only on cloudy days, while the rest of the time you can do it in the early morning and after sunset.
- For feeding Strawberries, you can take ready-made nutrient solutions or prepare a mixture of about 40 g of ammonium nitrate, 40 g of superphosphate, 10 g of potassium salt per bucket of water.
Planting Requirements for Growing Strawberries in Greenhouse
If you want to try growing Strawberries in a greenhouse, you’ll find that there are several advantages. All greenhouse crops are protected from sudden and unexpected drops in temperature. Before the plant’s flower, you’ll need to keep the temperature level at about 15°C. It’s critical for your Strawberry plants to get as much sunlight as possible while fruiting. For the best Strawberry greenhouse production, situate the greenhouse system where it gets direct sun and keep the windows clean.
Strawberry plants need plenty of sunlight and dry conditions to thrive, which is one of the great advantages of growing them under glass. Aim to give them as much sunlight as possible, which should be at least 6 hours a day; you can help ensure this by keeping the panes clean and clear. Especially in the warmer months, Strawberry plants do require frequent water, because those shallow roots can dry out quickly. Then, they thrive in hot and dry conditions, so be careful not to overwater, which can lead to the soil becoming waterlogged and the fruit rotting.
Growing Strawberries in a greenhouse reduce pest damage. That’s because it will be difficult for insects and pests to get to the protected fruit. When you are growing Strawberries in a greenhouse, you’ll want to take care to choose healthy plants. Strawberries need well-draining soil, so be sure your pots or grow bags have plenty of drainage holes. Mulch with straw to regulate the soil temperature. Irrigation is necessary for all Strawberry production since the plants have shallow roots. But water is more important for Strawberry greenhouse production, given the warm air inside the structure. Water your Strawberry plants regularly, providing water from the bottom. You’ll also want to feed your Strawberry plants in the greenhouse with fertilizer every few weeks until the flowers open.
A balanced fertilizer should be used every fortnight, which must be switched to a liquid fertilizer containing potash once flowering has begun to help the fruits form. As members of the rose family, a rose fertilizer can be used instead. Growing Strawberries in a greenhouse will require hand pollination. Use a brush to gently spread pollen between flowers, and then check up on them frequently to ensure successful pollination has occurred.
Watering and Feeding Requirement for Growing Strawberries in Greenhouse
Your Strawberry plants will require frequent watering due to their shallow roots that are prone to drying out rapidly. Greenhouses can get very hot, especially during the summer season, making regular watering of the utmost importance. It is mainly recommended that watering only takes place in the morning to minimize the length of time that the soil is very wet. You can feed your Strawberries every 2 weeks with a balanced, organic fertilizer during the growing season.
Pest Problems in Growing Strawberries in Greenhouse
Growing crops in a greenhouse will reduce the risk of some pests like slugs and birds. Strawberries are susceptible to several common problems like garden pests. Some of these problems are Japanese beetles, spider mites, slugs, and snails. Diseases such as powdery mildew and gray mold can cause serious losses as well.
Strawberry plants are rather susceptible to plant disease, especially verticillium wilt, even when growing in a greenhouse. Risks can be further reduced by keeping the greenhouse clean and healthy, throwing out any dead plants and leaves before they rot. Greenhouses reduce the prevalence of birds, bugs, and slug damage to fruits.
Spider mites tend to go dormant in winter production, but they will a major problem during the warmest periods of production. By introducing predator mites are one of the ways you can control this pest. One of the predator mites are californicus, can be put on the crop before you see any evidence of spider mites, because that particular mite can survive on the pollen on the flower. Spider mites can be controlled with applications of Safer Soap every 2 days. Repeated applications of this safe miticide are necessary because it kills adult mites. Then, you will want to use Safer Soap only on those plants with a severe infestation.
Whiteflies are not particularly fond of Strawberries, but when they appear in the greenhouse they can be kept under control with Eretmocerus wasps. Use yellow sticky cards to monitor the whitefly population in the greenhouse. Botrytis is the most common disease in greenhouse Strawberry production and that affects fruits can infect the crops while they are flowering. If you are the recirculating nutrient solution, treat the solution to suppress pathogens like Pythium and Phytopthora.
One of the main things you need to consider when growing in a greenhouse is that Strawberries aren’t growing in damp conditions. Grey mould can affect Strawberry plants in a greenhouse, occurs when conditions become too damp or humid without proper ventilation. Ensuring your greenhouse is ventilated properly and that plants aren’t overcrowded helps avoid grey mould. Also look out for red steel rot, identified by stunted plant leaves and red discoloration on the root. By keeping soil well-drained will help to avoid red steel rot.
For biological control agents to work effectively, the target pest should be present and greenhouse conditions must be favorable. It is very important to release agents at the first sign of a pest before an outbreak occurs. Scouting for pests is very important because populations can increase rapidly under favorable greenhouse conditions. Root diseases can become the main problem with a recirculating irrigation system.
To avoid such diseases problems, follow a few simple rules;
- Plant only healthy seedlings;
- Timely remove diseased or broken leaves and stems.
When and How to Harvest Strawberries in Greenhouse
Strawberry fruits are usually ready about 5 weeks after the flowers blossom. Harvest by picking them every 2 days. Remove excessive immature fruits to keep harvest time longer. Strawberries must be harvested every day and, during periods of warmer temperatures and high light, twice per day.
Strawberry yields are mainly dependent on the production techniques, and greenhouse environmental conditions, cultivar selection, seedling preparation, growing system, and integrated pest management, has been developed to attain marketable yields of 350 to 450 gm per plant or 7 to 9 kg·m–2.