How is cultivation as a strawberry producer in South Tyrol?
Home-grown strawberries from mid-June and into November – this only works thanks to the most modern cultivation methods in so-called foil tunnels. They protect our strawberries from hailstones and too much sunlight, but leave room for nature’s helpers, the bees and other valuable insects, to do their work. This protective structure thus not only extends the harvest time in South Tyrol, it also increases the quantity of high-quality fruit with a convincing taste. And last but not least, modern berry cultivation makes work easier for fruit growers and protects nature.
Away from the open field
Until about 15 years ago, the strawberry season was relatively short compared to today. Why do you ask? Once again, the weather played a significant role. The open field, as the name suggests, is relentlessly exposed to the fluctuations of nature. If it got too warm or too cold, the whole crop was ruined – no protection no harvest.
A solution was needed! Foil covers helped to speed up the ripening process, but there was still the danger of overheating. We switched to plan B: insulation!
No, we didn’t build a house, but put the plants in insulation to regulate the temperature. As an additional measure, we built walking tunnels that were roofed over.
This helped for a short time, but the growing areas had to be changed regularly, because strawberries thrive best in fresh, nutrient-rich soil. Since such an almost annual move was not possible due to the limited growing areas in the region, something new had to be found.
One storey higher
The solution was Stellage cultivation. Here, the strawberries no longer grow in the field soil, but one storey higher in substrate-filled boxes. The substrate is specially adapted to the needs of our strawberries so that they get the perfect ratio of nutrients and minerals they need to grow. Fertilisation is done with automatic irrigation. This way of growing has the following advantages:
- picking is more pleasant, easier on the back and more effective for us.
- an area can be used for several years with consistently high berry quality.
- only as much fertiliser and water as the plants need is applied in an environmentally friendly way.
- the ripeness of the fruit can be controlled more precisely.
Protection from the whims of nature
The permanently installed tunnels are becoming more and more similar to greenhouses in their technical equipment and can be equipped with automatic ventilation, for example. And modern strawberry cultivation has another big plus: it reduces leaf and fruit diseases. In addition, pests can be controlled more easily with biological counterparts, other insects, so-called beneficial insects. This reduces the use of pesticides many times over and protects the plants.
Supporting regional cultivation
For us fruit growers, however, an investment in shelters and foil tunnels also means that we can guarantee our customers stable prices for years to come. Buying from a regional strawberry producer like us therefore not only guarantees fresh, ripe fruit with a good taste, but also supports the preservation of regional cultivation under sustainable conditions.