Berry Farming and Cultivation: A Profitable Agribusiness

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You put them in cereals and your smoothies and you suddenly feel the burst of flavors in your bite, berries are the ultimate taste and texture enhancer for everything for breakfast and dessert. Now that it is established that breakfast should always be done like a king, packing the maximum nutrients in your morning meals is a must. Berries of all kinds should always be added, not just for flavor or color but these tiny, bursting-with-flavors fruits are packed with all the vital nutrients that keep your immune system healthy. [1]

Berries The Ultimate Health Elixir

Anyone who is a picky eater but still wants to keep diseases at bay should include berries in their daily diet. Packed with antioxidants like anthocyanin, resveratrol, and ellagic acid, berries provide protection from illness and are a fantastic source of fiber. If you want to keep free radicals in check opt for blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries in your food. [2]

Furthermore, berries are also favorable for insulin sensitivity, so healthy snacking with berries is a better alternative to other fried starchy food that we all consume on a daily basis. Those who do not want to get fat should definitely include berries as their fiber-rich content helps in feeling full and thus curb the urge to eat constantly. [3]

From helping in arterial functions to keeping cholesterol levels healthy, berries are literally an elixir for health. If still in doubt, consume it in a moderate amount daily to know how your skin elasticity improves and how it feels more radiated and fresher.

Berries and How They Are Grown?

How berries are grown commercially

Berry farming has expanded in the past years as the demand for these fruits has increased recently, which is why even small ventures are trying their hands in berry farming.

Ranking

Country

Trade Value ($1000)

Quantity(kg)

1

Spain

520,189.64 

75,522,500 

2

Mexico

411,014.59 

46,494,100 

3

USA

354,131.56 

47,549,400 

4

Morocco

245,314.23 

36,070,800 

5

Portugal

219,521.99 

28,422,400 

2019 Research by the World Bank revealed Spain as being the highest exporter of berries of all kinds. [4]

Before learning about berry farming , it is necessary to understand how berries are grown and the requirements related to land, weather conditions, and water needs that need to be fulfilled to have a commercial-level berry farm.

The Weather Conditions

 Before planning to grow berries, one should know the weather condition of their region as berries require a sufficient amount of sunlight in most cases. Sunlight straight for 6 to 8 hours is necessary for the healthy growth of the berries. Check the condition of the soil beforehand where you plan to start the cultivation. A well-drained soil is a must for berries, mainly blueberries. [5]

The Water and Soil Condition for Berries

 It is preferable to install a trickle irrigation system for berries. Though they require moisture, well-drained soil is also compulsory for the healthy growth of the fruit. It is recommended to avoid spraying water on the fruits as wet fruits can attract mold or disease which can result in rotten fruits.

The Best Time of the Year to Grow Berries

 Winter is when, like most fruits, berry plants take a rest and will not give fruit. If one wants to enjoy the fruit in summer, it is preferred to plant berry seeds by early spring or autumn to enjoy the harvest the next summer. [6]

The Temperature Requirement

 The most important condition needed for any plant to grow and spread is pollination. For pollination, bees and other similar agents are required so they can help disperse the pollens for quicker growth of the plants. Therefore, to ensure that the bee colony is thriving, a temperature between 65-85 F is essential for berry farming and the healthy growth of the plants. [7]

The Particulars for Each Berry

 Knowing all about the berries is necessary to ensure the growth of a healthy plant. While there are a variety of berries to choose from, there are certain conditions of soil, water needs, and fertilizers unique to every kind of berries that are to be catered to in order to have a healthy yield. Most of the berries start giving fruit within a year or two, for example, it takes just 2 years for Honeyberry, Strawberry, Raspberry, Blackberry, and Marionberry to bear fruit. [8] While others might require more time to grow to bear fruits. Usually Blueberry, Currant, Cranberry, Boysenberry, and Goji berry take around 2 to 3 years for mature plants to produce fruit.

The Innovation to Cater to Growing Demand for Berries

 With time, berry consumption has grown in the past as people are now more health conscious and aware of the nutritional benefits of these tiny fruits, but their growing demands require farmers to practice sustainable means to farm berries that grow faster, are not degrading the environment and fulfilling the commercial demand of the fruits as well.

In order to cater to the growing demand many innovative techniques are being implemented to have more yield by adopting sustainable means but before that let’s learn the requirements to grow particular kinds of berries.

What You Need To Know About Strawberries Farming

bees for pollination

This velvety red fruit requires at least 6 hours of sunlight, with thick mulchy soil to retain moisture but not too much to cause mold. [9] The fun fact about the berry is that it gets its name from the straw that was used as the mulch to avoid the fruit touching the soil or catching any plant disease in the process. Despite strawberries being a perennial plant, commercially, they are treated as annuals

Strawberry Farming

The best time to start the strawberry plantation is by September. After the harvest of the strawberries, the land has to be plowed and fertilized to make it healthy for the next crop. Soil is prepared by making mounds of soil in rows and then covering it with a plastic sheet to ensure the soil absorbs the required nutrient to have a better yield for the next strawberry crop.

Strawberry plants require well-drained soil, therefore, a drip irrigation system is installed and prepared during the soil preparation time. Using tractors, holes are made in the ground at exact intervals where farmers plant the plants. It is believed that on average 17,500 strawberry plants are planted per acre of land.

Winter Care

 The crops stay safe during the winter season as well as watering and fertilizing them continues even during winter to maintain a healthy crop. During winters the crops usually go dormant but row covers ensure that they stay healthy and nutrient-rich and protected from wind or frost damage. By March, the crops started to grow again. [10]

How Strawberry Farms Grow Fruits Without Seeds

Commercial farming of strawberries does not use seeds to grow the plant, instead, runners are used. But in order to ensure healthy and tasty yield, pollination of the flowers are still a necessity, therefore many strawberry farms have bee hives as well for pollination purposes. An interesting fact about commercial farming is that each day, the fruits must be collected by the workers as commercial farming results in quicker plant and fruit growth. On average 70 workers work tirelessly to collect the fruit from around 1000,000 plants on a daily basis.

With the advancement in technology, now even before the plants bear the fruit, the leaves are sent for sampling to test the nutritional content and taste of the fruit to make sure that the final result is appropriate to the market requirement.

Strawberries are one of the most demanded fruit and had a market value of $24.79 billion in 2021. Its commercial value can be judged by how much it is grown in each continent.

Largest Producers of Strawberries by Continent

Ranking

Continent

Production Quantity (In tonnes)

1

Asia

4,534,281

2

Americas

2,184,292

3

Europe

1,762,208

4

Africa

634,288

5

Oceania

60,316

research conducted by FAO to measure Strawberry Production in different continents and regions in 2023. [11]

Blackberry and Raspberry Farming

Delicious Blackberries are red when not ripened

Blackberries and raspberries farming are usually done in Tunnel System farming, a microclimate is maintained under the low or high tunnel structure, allowing the fruit to survive the environmental conditions easily and allowing the plants to produce more fruit. Furthermore, the birds or pests cannot spoil the crop as the controlled environment is maintained. The crop does not get diseases as the tunnel ensures less or no contact with the rain. [12]

 The plants cannot be clustered together, a minimum 50 cm distance between two plants is needed, once one row is planted, the next should be at least a meter away from the first. The thorny brambles can also be grown in large pots but excessive amounts of water can damage the plants.

 Unlike the conventional methods of farming, now tunnel system farming is preferred in most commercial regions like Quebec, Europe, and California.

Interesting Fact about Raspberry and Blackberry

Both raspberries and blackberries will bear fruits only if their cane will survive two years. The primocane that grows in the first year does not give fruit. It is the floricane that grows after the plant bears the first winter, which ultimately produces fruits. Each year a new cane bears new fruits while the old one dies after its harvest. [13]

Blueberry Farming

Blueberries are grown on a farm

Do you know that blueberries were considered a wild bush once? Well, an interesting fact about the berries is that it was not until the 1900s that people started growing them commercially before blueberries could only be found in the jungles.

How Blueberry Farming is Done

 Growing blueberries as an agribusiness is an old practice as it requires less effort and amount to start but the produce is very profitable. Commercially three main types of berries are planted,

1- High Bush Berry

2-Low Bush Berry

3-Rabbit Eye Berry. [14]

Blueberries require indirect sunlight, usually a morning sun will suffice and only the shaded warmth of the afternoon sun can be very beneficial for the plant. Whether in the pot, planter bag, or garden bed, blueberries can easily thrive if the soil is moisturized, thoroughly drained, and a bit acidic.

The Sites that Are Chosen for Blueberry Farming

The required soil has to be acidic and should be well aerated. Therefore, the farmers maintain the soil’s pH level between 4.0 to 5.5. Often, a small quantity of sulfur is added to lower the soil’s pH level for farming. The land is plowed for tillage. In order to have a sufficient yield, a better irrigation system should be used that can maintain the nutrients required for the crop and retain the moisture level.

How to Care for Blueberry Plant

As the soil needs to be acidic, the plant can stay healthy if each month acid-based plant food is fed to the plant till it matures by mid-summer. The roots of blueberries are not very strong and usually dry out easily, it is therefore advised to keep the soil covered with mulch often, especially when planting in a hot region. If well taken care of, the plant can give fruit for 20 years but after every 5 years pruning becomes a necessity to ensure healthy growth of the plant and abundance of fruit.

Other Berries Plants That Are Now Grown Commercially as Well as at Home:

dried red berries

 While black, blue, and strawberries are often grown, some other berries that are beneficial health wise and can be grown both commercially or privately are cranberries which can even be cultivated in cold areas as their frost tolerance is impressive. Though lands are a better option for cranberries, you can even grow them in a planter which has to be at least 2500cm2. Initially, 3 years are hard and require work on the part of the farmers but if the plant survives the 3 years, it will bear fruit for the whole life.

 Other berries that are not cultivated for commercial purposes are goji berries and gooseberries.

The Fun Berry Facts

 Everyone knows how healthy berry snacking is. Besides tasting like candies, berries are full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can keep your stomach, arteries, skin, and urinary tract healthy and clean. But here are some fun facts about berries that you certainly are not aware of, read on and share with all the berry lovers.

1- Did you know that blackberries are actually red when raw?

2- Having a headache can be healed if you snack on strawberries instead of shoving paracetamols in your mouth. The salicylate in strawberries does the trick. [15]

3- Blueberries are your organic dyes, next time don’t go for unnatural store-bought dyes.

4- The blackberries and raspberries are not a singular fruit, those tiny bubbles that you see are the fruits and altogether they form a bunch which we know as the blackberry or raspberry. [16]

 5- One of the most interesting facts about berries is that “a berry” is only one that grows from a flower with an ovary. What we call berries are actually a bunch of multiple tiny drupelets.

Conclusion

Adding berries to the daily diet is very important. From healthy urinary tract infections to freshen-up the skin, berries have loads of benefits that cannot be neglected. With advancements in berry farming techniques, now having more yield by lessening the environmental impact is a possibility. Commercial farming techniques like hydroponic, aeroponic, and tunnel systems have made berry farming less daunting and more profitable.

References

[1] Berries are among the healthiest foods you can eat. (2021, August 23). News. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/hsph-in-the-news/fresh-berries-are-among-the-healthiest-foods-you-can-eat/

[2] Ceylan. (2023, March 14). Why You Should Incorporate Berries Into Your Diet. https://healthnews.com/nutrition/healthy-eating/why-you-should-incorporate-berries-into-your-diet/

[3] Fruit, edible; raspberries, blackberries, mulberries and loganberries, fresh exports by country. (n.d.). World Integrated Trade Solution (WITS) | Data on Export, Import, Tariff, NTM. https://wits.worldbank.org/trade/comtrade/en/country/ALL/year/2019/tradeflow/Exports/partner/WLD/product/081020

 [4] Robertson, R. (n.d.). The 8 healthiest berries you can eat. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/8-healthy-berries

[5] Herrick, C. (2019, September 25). 8 ways to improve internal drainage in blueberries. Growing Produce. https://www.growingproduce.com/fruits/8-ways-to-improve-internal-drainage-in-blueberries/

[6] Backyard berries: Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries | Gardeners.com. (2022, November 28). www.gardeners.com. https://www.gardeners.com/how-to/backyard-berries/7250.html 

[7] High heat during blueberry bloom: Great for pollination, as long as it doesn’t get too hot. (2021, May 18). Blueberries. https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/high-heat-during-blueberry-bloom 

[8] Berry plants: How many years until fruit? (n.d.). Stark Bro’s Nurseries & Orchards Co. https://www.starkbros.com/growing-guide/article/how-many-years-berries

[9] Strawberry, M. (2022, February 11). Growing strawberry plants commercially. Strawberry Plants. https://strawberryplants.org/growing-strawberry-plants-commercially/

[11] Admin. (2023, May 30). 10 world’s biggest strawberries producers. The Science Agriculture. https://scienceagri.com/10-worlds-biggest-strawberries-producers/

[12] Growing high tunnel raspberries. (n.d.). Extension at the University of Minnesota. https://extension.umn.edu/raspberry-farming/growing-high-tunnel-raspberries

 [13] How to plant, grow and harvest blackberries and raspberries. (n.d.). GardenTech. https://www.gardentech.com/blog/gardening-and-healthy-living/how-to-grow-blackberries-and-raspberries

 [14] (n.d.). UC Davis Western Institute for Food Safety and Security. https://www.wifss.ucdavis.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Blueberries_PDF.pdf

[15] Fresh berries from Driscoll’s®. (2018, January 10). Driscoll’s®. https://www.driscolls.com.au/blog/fun-and-unusual-berry-facts

 [16] 10 fun facts about berries. (2019, March 12). Minnesota Monthly. https://www.minnesotamonthly.com/sponsored/10-fun-facts-about-berries/

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