Shortly before Christmas the headlines said there would be a strawberry shortage. This was no surprise. The weather the previous week had been atrocious with days of continual rain and high humidity. I would think that any outdoor crop, hit by this weather, would have been facing some huge issues.
For businesses growing in tunnels, they would’ve still had negative effects from the weather, but I would think considerably less issues. High humidity is unavoidable, but it would have been much easier to apply protectant fungicides to reduce fungal losses for plants growing on tables/gutters than field crops growing on the ground.
Even low-tech tunnel house offers several major advantages compared to traditional field growing. If the plants are growing on gutters/tables, it is much easier to spray and keep your plants drier for longer and manipulate the water content in the substrates. Protecting the crop will mitigate fruit damage caused by hail or heavy rains.
Growers that have moved to protected cropping are expanding and will outproduce traditional field growing strawberries. We all know labour is a massive issue and no one will want to pick from the ground soon. Some boutique properties or pick your own, may survive but for commercial operations I believe unless you change you will get out performed and slowly be replaced by higher producing and labour friendly protected cropping structures.
There are so many cost benefits – contact me if you want some sound advice.
If you missed them, check out the mainstream media articles from Christmas week below