Cultivation of strawberry in Pakistan
Fragaria ananasa. It belongs to family rosaceae. Fruit of strawberry is beautiful, fragrant and sensitive. Seeds are present outside of the its fruit. Strawberry is also used to form jam, jelly and dope. Fruit is soft and its colour is pink. Strawberry is famous in the world due to its taste. Strawberry has high amount of vitamin C. World top growing countries are America, Turkey, Spain, Egypt and South Korea. In Pakistan first time strawberry was grown in 1951. After trials, two verities were recommended for cultivation. These verities were Missionary and Klondike. Now its cultivation is increasing in Pakistan. In Punjab growing regions are Sheikhupura, Nankana, Gujranwala, Sialkot, Gujrat, Qasor, Mendibhawaldeen, Sargodha, Rawalpindi, Jhelum and Chakwal. In KPK, strawberry is cultivated in Swat, Abtabad, Manshera, Maripur, Mardan Charsada and Peshawar. It contains protein, water, iron, sodium, fat, fibers, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin and vitamin C. Strawberry is grown in cold climate, but it is affected by frost. Frost burns the new sprouting buds. Precaution measure should be taken to protect the strawberry from frost in areas of high frost. The areas that have moderate temperature and humidity are suitable for high production of strawberry. For strawberry cultivation fertile, well drained and rich in organic matter soils are suitable. The soils that have salinity and hard pan are not suitable for strawberry cultivation. Water logging soils and light soils should be avoided because these soils are not predicted as for good production of strawberry. Soil should also have moisture and water holding capacity. Strawberry is propagated by using both methods sexually and asexually. The propagation that is done by seeds, takes 2 years for bearing and give economical production. So generally, propagation through seed is not advisable. Asexually propagation is done by runners. Runners are produced on the branches of plants. 20-25 runners can be collected from one female plant. Runners are prepared in Swat in summer and transfer in the field in September and October in sub-tropical area of Punjab. Runners can be planted till mid of November according to environmental conditions. In case of hilly areas, runners are transferred into field in spring. For preparation of soil before land preparation add 8-10 tonnes of FYM. At the time of land preparation add four bags of single super phosphate, 1bag of potassium sulphate and half bag of urea. Plough the soil 4-6 times until soil become soft and porous. In Pakistan, strawberry is mostly planted on beds. After levelling of soil make the beds. The distance between the beds should be 2.5 ft and height of bed should be 6-9 inches. The planting distance between plants is maintained from 6-9 inches. In this way 30000-35000 plants can be planted in one acer. For superior quality and quantity production of strawberry, continuous eradication of weeds is very important. After every 10-12 days hoeing should be done to control the weeds. Hoeing should be done carefully because strawberry has fibrous root system that can be easily damaged. So, care should be taken that roots should not be damaged. Organic and inorganic fertilizers are very important for good yield and production of strawberry. Mostly fertilizers are used at the time of land preparation. Just half bag of urea is used at the time of flowering. Regular irrigation has also role in fruit quality and quantity. Irregular irrigation effects size, colour and taste of the fruit. First irrigation applies immediately after the transplantation of runners into the field. Normally, irrigation is done after every 7-8 days but at the time of flowering irrigation should be done after every 4-5 days. There is special kind of management has been done in strawberry because due to dwarfness of strawberry plant fruit touches with soil it reduces the quality and quantity of fruit. Sometime fruit may rot. So, rice straw or plastic sheet should place under the plant to protect the fruit from any damage. There are some insects and diseases that attack on the strawberry plant. Insects include stem borer. Diseases that cause economical loss include phytophthora, anthracnose and rhizocotonia. Topsin–M is used to control these diseases. For control of stem borer, Confida is mostly used. In subtropical areas bearing start at the beginning of March and in hilly areas bearing start at the end of April. Harvest at fully ripened stage for local market. For distance market harvest the fruit at the stage till it is quite hard. Fruit does not ripen at same time, so harvesting should be done after every 2-3 days. Mostly 6-9 times pickings are done in one crop of strawberry. The average yield of strawberry is 300-400 kg per acer. Strawberry is very sensitive fruit, so it must be carefully packed. Over ripen fruits are separated and used for making jelly. Fruit individually pack into tissue paper and place tissue between two fruits. Packing should not exceed from more than 2 kg. Different varieties are cultivated in Pakistan like Missionary, Klondyke and Howard, Blackmore etc.
This article is collectively authored by Shaukat Hussain, Mujahid Ali, Dr. Rashad Mukhtar Balal (Department of Horticulture, College of Agriculture, University of Sargodha)
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