Diverse planting processes are performed every day, whether of fruits or vegetables, to try to meet the food and nutritional demand of the world’s population. Each agricultural cycle involves a series of activities that must be carried out in a systematic and organized manner, depending on each specific crop, to obtain good results.
However, when we it comes to the cultivation of strawberries under plastic covers, it is necessary to mention a true case-story that clearly demonstrates that when there’s dedication on our part and we look for viable alternatives of agricultural production, we can obtain very competitive and quality crops. This is the case of EZ Grow Farms, a family farm in Canada that has managed to position itself within the strawberry production market through the use of greenhouse systems.
Before getting into the topic, it is worth mentioning that the strawberry is considered an exotic fruit par excellence, which thanks to its aroma, flavour, characteristic color and unbeatable commercial value is among the favourites of consumers worldwide. Strawberries are a very versatile fruit that show great adaptability, so they can be successfully grown in regions where the climate can become very temperate or, on the contrary, in areas where the environment is much more tropical.
Being aware of that has allowed EZ Grow Farms, with more than 48 years in the world of vegetable and fruit cultivation, to make important production innovations especially in terms of the achievement of new strawberry varieties that help extend the planting and harvesting season, thus increasing demand among local consumers.
How cultivating strawberries under plastic tunnels has worked in Canada
According to information published on the website Greenhouse Canada, the family business EZ Grow Farms, located in Norfolk County in Langton, Ontario, Canada, has managed to carry out the cultivation of strawberries under plastic covers for more than 30 years for strawberry producers in North America, which is why they currently produce an estimate of 20 different varieties that can be adapted to the conditions of the North American region and others that can be adapted to areas located in some Caribbean islands.
Cultivating strawberries has its tricks, since it is a very complex plant, that is why to achieve successful crops the EZ Grow Farms has become an expert creating the ideal conditions to produce strawberry varieties over a period of approximately three to four weeks, as well as other varieties that produce strawberries for up to 12 months, all based on the correct scenario provided by the greenhouse. One of the key processes is to keep a strict control of the plants sown, such as the technique used and the date when their life cycle began.
The experience of EZ Grow Farms began by supplying strawberry nursery plants to greenhouses when some producers in Ontario were still considering the idea of growing strawberries under glass. They had planted rose bushes and blueberries in greenhouses, so they were already familiar with the methodology and the practice, that’s why they decided to try with strawberry plants.
According to information published on the website Greenhouse Canada, part of the initiative was a response to the call of the commercial industry for a strawberry program through greenhouses that would extend the season of cultivation and commercialization. We invite you to read our post about cultivating under high tunnels in Canada.
A crucial aspect of cultivating strawberries under plastic covers is that plants that are destined for greenhouses probably require to be stored in a climate-controlled area longer. In this case, the plants that have already matured can be protected under those ideal conditions before sending them to the final customer, but everything will depend on the variety requested and the use that the customer will give to them. The idea is that, if you want to produce more berries from the nursery plant during the low season, you should be able to provide an ideal environment in the greenhouse where the plant is in a cold environment for several hours.
We also recommend you read our article on how agricultural plastics have helped in the success of crops in Almería, Spain and on the critical temperatures of crops.
Advantages of growing strawberries under plastic
The managers of EZ Grow Farms emphasize that one of the advantages of growing strawberries under plastic covers is that, aside from the fact that the fruit reaches an ideal appearance, consumers can enjoy fresh strawberries all year round whose ideal flavour is not compared to those that have been sown in open fields, basically because of the external factors that can negatively affect the cultivation of strawberries, such as rain or changes in temperature, so cultivating them in a more controlled way through greenhouses it is safer to get the ideal taste from the fruit.
Cultivating strawberries under plastic tunnels has not been easy, however, EZ Grow Farms has managed to face the challenges by achieving the transformations needed to meet the growing local demand of producers and consumers, being one of the few producers of strawberry nursery plants in Canada that has been able to reach the same level of production, yield and quality, of the US market.
Plastic Greenhouses are today modern structures that offer similar isolation features as well as resistance to winds, hail and snow loads. They are suitable for cultivation in any type of climate as they can be adapted with modern heating/cooling systems. The versatility they offer in any climate, the increase in productivity together with the lesser investment and faster return make them a key-factor today in the global expansion of protected agriculture systems.
How mulching plastics influence strawberry cultivation
Another ally of strawberry crops are mulching plastics that help improve production. However, in some areas of Canada there are agricultural producers who grow strawberries relying on the matted row system that is based on the placement of large rows of straw, since it is an easy and economical option, but the reality is that it isn’t the most recommended method because it allows the filtration of fertilizers and the fruit degrades much earlier. For that precise reason, the option of plastic mulching with row covers is becoming more popular, gaining more followers in Canada by allowing crops to improve not only in yield, but also in fruit weight, acidity and firmness.
It has been demonstrated that using these mulching plastics reduces the loss of weight and juice of the fruit, resulting in larger, sweeter and brighter strawberries, with more antioxidants and polyphenols, while the emergence of grey mould decreases.
Thanks to these plastic covers the soil is oxygenated and strengthened allowing the roots to become stronger. All these aspects, aside from helping to improve the quality of the harvested product and accelerating its maturation by shortening the growing season, also allow the fruit to last longer in the refrigerator, thus improving the process of commercialization.
Other posts that you may find interesting are the following:
- How to reduce energy costs in greenhouses in Canada
- How to extend the farming season of blackberries with high tunnels
Some recommendations of plastics: