For decades, the Clery and the Elsanta have dominated strawberry cultivation in Germany and neighboring countries. However, in recent years, several varieties with high cultivation and marketing potential have been introduced to the market. One of these promising new registrations is the variety Twist from Dutch breeder Fresh Forward. Jörg Huber from the fruit farm of the same name in the heart of the Ortenau region spoke to us about his experience in cultivation to date.
For the Ortenau fruit producer, 2022 is an extremely challenging season. "On April 15, we were able to harvest our first tunnel crop. The cold spell then slowed down the post-ripening of the fruit somewhat, and we could have used more fruit, especially at the traditional sales peaks at Easter and Mother's Day. At present, we are observing a weakness in the consumption rate, at both retailers and the wholesale markets, and there is a lack of demand in direct marketing. Supplementary and predominantly low-priced offers from Southern Europe and the Netherlands are creating noticeable oversupplies, which is why prices are trending downward," says Huber.
Good qualities and pleasing stocks
In addition, there are the serious cost increases on the production side, which are ultimately only partially enforceable in the price. "Retailers should actively promote domestic goods, supporting regional farmers," Huber says. Despite cost increases and the lousy sales situation, there is still hope at the start of the free-range harvest. "Quality is excellent and the volumes are nice. Therefore, I am confident that sales will develop positively in the second half of the season."
Jörg Huber has been a Fresh Forward partner from the very beginning and also cultivates the Allegro strawberry variety.
Good addition to the variety spectrum
To complement his variety spectrum, four years ago Huber decided to grow the -at that point still unnamed- Twist test variety from Fresh Forward. Since then, this strawberry variety has been growing and thriving on just under 0.4 hectares and initial results have been largely positive, he says. Huber: "Only in 2020 there was a deficit in the growth of the strawberry, otherwise the cultivation in our region was flawless. Twist starts yielding now, in mid-May, and can usually be picked by the end of the month. The marketing window is relatively short, but due to the high percentage of large berries, the net yield is still quite high."
The Twist variety will be harvested starting this week.
The variety will be marketed to food retailers, southwest German wholesale markets and through the company's own farm store. "Twist has already proven itself in all sales channels and is well received by customers, not least because of its taste. Both growers and consumers are pleased to see some new blood in the strawberry market. If the cultivation goes well this year again, I could imagine a corresponding expansion of the acreage. In this respect, Twist is a good addition to our range of varieties," Huber concludes.