Throughout Germany, the strawberry plants are doing well. After an average mild winter with some extreme temperature differences, so far the crops have survived the late frosts well thanks to the foil tunnels and fleece covers. Temperatures are still quite low, but next week spring will show its true self in the south. While the harvest in southern Germany will start gradually and increasingly from the middle of next week in the high tunnels, it will start somewhat later in the rest of Germany (see table below).
"We are optimistic about the season: The strawberry plants have come through the winter and the late frosts well, so we expect many aromatic fruits this season. Currently, harvesters and harvest workers can enter the lands, subject to conditions. The farms have implemented comprehensive infection control concepts and are also well prepared for the season in this respect. We are looking forward to being able to supply the market with domestic strawberries," says Simon Schumacher, spokesman for the board of the Verband Süddeutscher Spargel- und Erdbeeranbauer e. V. (Association of Southern German Asparagus and Strawberry Growers). (VSSE).
Good starting conditions for the strawberry season
Throughout Germany, things are looking good for the strawberry harvest this year, as neither snow nor frost so far has caused any significant damage. Also, the harvest situation in these times of the pandemic is more relaxed compared to last year thanks to a possible influx of seasonal workers.
"Last year we were extremely early, this year we are a little later again. It's just a normal weather year. All the companies I've talked to in the past few weeks have been positive about the labor situation. Things are also looking good as far as infection control on the farms is concerned," says Christof Steegmüller, strawberry cultivation consultant in Baden-Württemberg and the Palatinate.
For western Germany, strawberry consultant Ludger Linnemantöns from North Rhine-Westphalia states: "In Westphalia there was a lot of snow, but nothing happened to the plants. The frosts did not cause any problems either. We will be able to start strawberry harvesting in the high tunnels in North Rhine-Westphalia in the last week of April. Compared to last season, this means we're a week later, but over the years it's in line with the usual start of the season in terms of timing."
Tilman Keller, strawberry crop consultant, can also only report positive things from the north: "We expect the harvest in the tunnels to start around the turn of the month. Currently, due to the different stages of the strawberry plants in the tunnels, under double cover and the unprotected crop, it looks like a relatively elongated strawberry harvest. The north-south spread of the start of harvest within Germany itself is promising as well." Thanks to the protected crop, customers can enjoy strawberries from April to July, during the domestic peak season.
Good demand for domestic strawberries expected
Agrarmarkt Informations-Gesellschaft mbH (AMI) rates the starting conditions for the upcoming strawberry season as good due to the increased demand for regional strawberries. "The degree of self-sufficiency, the share of German strawberries in total market supply, was around 56 percent last year, according to AMI. In 2020, a household bought an average of 4.2 kg of strawberries, which is 12 percent more than the year before. In terms of sales channels, direct marketing can report growth: 19.4 percent of German strawberries were purchased directly from the producer. That is 2.5 percentage points more than in the previous year," Eva Würtenberger, market expert for strawberries at AMI explains.
Looking back at the 2020 season
According to the Federal Statistical Office, the 2020 strawberry harvest in Germany was almost 6 percent higher than the previous year at 152,177 tons. At the same time, the number of farms growing strawberries decreased by just under 4 percent to 1,952 farms. The area under cultivation is also down by more than 3 percent, to 11,189 hectares in 2020. At the same time, protected cultivation increased by 3 percent to 1,669 hectares.
For more information:www.vsse.de