The alpine strawberry crop this year was exceptional. The weather had a lot to do with this bumper crop. Another factor is our fine tuning irrigation and fertilization schedules. Check out these ‘Pineapple Crush’ berries harvested today, 6/22/12. I wish you could experience the aroma and taste of these exceptional berries.
I haven’t had a chance to get out a newsletter but did want to make customers and future customers aware of our new directions. This past spring (2012) was our last season of offering a wide variety of selections, species and varieties of strawberries. We are changing our focus to seeds and consulting. Now that there is more awareness of and local production of gourmet strawberries we think this is the logical step forward.
We will be offering pine berries for fall 2012 and spring of 2013 but they will not be grown by us here in Delaware. A terrific grower is now rooting the next crop in Tennessee. All production is bare root production which will allow the plants to be shipping to all 48 continental states. We are not yet sure whether they can be shipping to AK or HI. We will be doing the marketing and taking the orders but the orders will be filled by the new grower. The grower will also be offering several selections of Fragaria virginiana such as ‘Little Scarlet’ and ‘Intensity’ as well. We should be in a position to start taking orders soon. Anyone who has setup a product notification will be notified when inventory has been added to the shopping cart.
We have given most of our web sites a face lift. Our main ecommerce sites will be upgraded shortly. This will allow us to add and update content more easily and hopefully more often. At the bottom of each page of the sites that have been upgraded is a list of the other sites in our family of web sites. These are primarily informational sites that supplement the content of our ecommerce sites. Some have content on species and selections that we are not offering for sale at this time.
We will continue growing custom orders of plugs and plants. Contact us if you have needs. We need to know well in advance of your needs. We will not be growing lots of plants and offering them on a shopping cart other than those being grown by other growers. Anything grown by us will have large minimum quantities and will require a deposit before we sow the seeds.
The post just before this one is about consulting and commercial production of gourmet strawberries. We are now testing systems that could be used by commercial growers that we believe will produce gourmet strawberries, particularly alpine strawberries, and significantly reduce labor costs.
For specifics for any of this information please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. To order seeds visit our seed site at Strawberry Seed Store. For one of our sites with a list of the other sites visit fraises des bois.
More and more commercial growers are experimenting with gourmet strawberries. I get frequent inquiries from growers who ask for recommendations on what varieties to buy. It is impossible to make such recommendations without knowing the local market or the grower’s goals. I wrote a response today to a grower and am going to post it here. Hopefully, other growers or potential growers will be helped by this response. So, here goes:
……… I consult to growers who plan to grow gourmet strawberries for the high end market. I will provide a few thoughts without a consulting agreement.
First, alpine/woodland types are so soft that high tunnel type protection is essential for optimum production. They can be grown in the open field. I grew them this way more than 20 years ago and supplied a five star French restaurant with the fruit. I did not have protection and lost a fairly large portion of the crop after each rain or wind storm. These storms increased disease problems for the fruit that was not damaged directly by the storms. Gourmet types of hybrid strawberries such as ‘Mara des Bois’ can be grown without protection.
It is essential that you either talk to or conduct a survey of potential customers including chefs. Finding out ahead of time about their needs will save a lot of time and money in the long run. Also keep in mind that there are markets for gourmet strawberries outside of restaurants. High end bakeries, caterers, and others are also potential customers and should be contacted to determine their needs.
My first “rule” is START SMALL. Growers frequently contact me saying that they have set aside several acres and ask for a quote on thousands of plants or zillions of seeds. Growing for this market is more like micro farming. Managing small areas intensively to produce high quality high value fruit. A grower in NJ started a gourmet strawberry biz in NJ this spring. He wanted to grow thousands of plants. I convinced him to start with 300. I think he’s glad he started small. Growing the plants is the easy part. Harvesting is very labor intensive. Doing all of this while trying to develop the market and fine tuning various aspects of the business can be a daunting task.
I offer a resource to growers who are considering gourmet strawberries as a crop. It is a publication that is on both my sites. The nearly $80 price tag discourages some. I will say that I wish I had that information available to me when I was starting out. I can assure you that the price tag of this publication doesn’t even scratch the surface of the costs of research that I have conducted to get to the point where I am today.
Once you get a relatively clear idea of what local customers are looking for we can talk about timing and specific selections/varieties. I am not growing plants for large scale retail sales any longer. This past spring was my last season of that. Instead, I am concentrating on seeds sales as well as consulting. I will grow custom orders of plants but it’s getting late to start a fall crop. Because I don’t have greenhouse facilities any longer it would be nearly impossible for me to start a spring crop here. I’m sure there are local growers who could grow the plants for you if you can’t do this yourself …….