Mulching is an essential culturalpractice for strawberry cultivation.Black polyethylene file (50 micron) hasbeen found to be very effective forstrawberry for higher yield as it helpsin soil moisture conservation, weedcontrol and keeps the fruits clean andavoids fruit rotting due to soil contami-nation. Mulching should be done afterproper establishment of runners andbefore flowering (30–45 days afterplanting). Before mulching, micro-sprinkler should be replaced by dripsystem. Mulching should be done bymaking holes in such a way that plantscome above the film and drip systemremain below the plastic mulch.
Use of plastic tunnels
During winter (December–February) prevailing low temperaturehinder proper growth anddevelopment of strawberry, hence, lowtunnels (50- cm height) for transparentpolyethylene film (50 micron) shouldbe installed with the help of GI wireover the raised beds to protect thestrawberry plants from frost and chillywinds. These tunnels should beopened during daytime and closedduring the night, which, facilitatehigher soil temperature consequentlyleading to early flowering, and higherfruit yield. These tunnels should beremoved when the temperature startsrising (end of February).
The plants start fruiting after 3–4months of planting. The fruits shouldbe picked when half to three-fourth offruit portion attains the natural crimsoncolour. The fruits should be harvestedin shallow plastic trays as they arehighly perishable and get damaged, ifbulky containers are used. Afterharvesting, fruits should be packed insmall plastic punnets and piled in CFBboxes for marketing. Fortransportation, refrigerated vansshould be preferred. By followingabove mentioned cultural practices,15–20 tonnes of strawberry fruits canbe harvested from one hectare.
Strawberry is usually propagatedby runners produced by establishedplants. Generally, runner productionis very difficult under prevailingclimatic conditions in semi-aridregions. With certain modifications,runner can be produced for nextseason. After fruiting is over, mulchingis removed and plants are allowed toproduce runners on the beds. Duringrunner production, fast growing plantslike
Time and stages of plastic mulching and low tunnel
Cultural practicesPhase of growthUses/remarksMulchingReproductive phaseCheck weed growth(black polyethylene)(flowering and fruiting)Better hydro-thermal regimes in soilPlastic tunnelReproductive phaseCheck frost damage(transparent polyethylene)(flowering and fruiting)Protection from chilled windsBetter micro climateEnhances earliness in fruitingHigher and early fruit yield
Economics* of strawberry cultivation onper hectare basis per year
Description of materialsApproximate cost(Lakh/ha)Planting material1.00(1,00,000 plants/ha)@ Rs 1/plantMicro-irrigation system (MIS)1.50Land preparation, planting0.20and intercultural operationPlastic film for mulching0.30and low tunnelManure, fertilizers and0.25pesticidesLabour charge0.50Packaging materials and0.50transportationMiscellaneous charges0.25
IncomeSales of fruits7.50(15 tonnes/ha@ Rs 50/kg)Sales of runners1.00(1 lakh @ Rs 1/plant)
Total income8.50Net profit4.00
*Simple calculations without use ofdiscounting procedures
View of straw mulchLow plastic tunnel on strawberry bedsduring winterRunner productions of strawberry