Strawberry Cultivation – Costs, Profit & Yield per acre

Strawberry is one of the highly profitable cash crops n parts of India. It can be grown in parts of India where weather and soil conditions are suitable. With diverse climatic conditions in India, farmers can’t cultivate strawberry all over India but there are select locations where strawberry thrives. Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, and Rajasthan are states which produce strawberries in India. Note that only some parts of each of the states are suitable for strawberry cultivation save Himachal Pradesh. 

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Mahabaleshwar in Maharashtra is known to be one of the largest cultivators of strawberries and farmers make a huge profit during the seasons selling strawberries in small and large outlets. Nainital and Dehradun in Uttarakhand, Kashmir valley, Bangalore in Karnataka, and Kalimpong in West Bengal are known to be the other few hubs for Strawberry cultivation.

Places, where strawberry cultivation has been researched in a closed, contained environment, include Tamil Nadu, Kerala. Commercial cultivation of strawberries is not well established in Kerala and Tamil Nadu except for some parts in the Nilgiri hills. Strawberry requires a subtropical weather condition. For best growth conditions the daytime temperature is noted to be 22 degrees and not higher with nighttime temperature to be 13 degrees celsius and not lower. Winter drives the plant to dormancy and flowering and growth are delayed. Growth and flowering are noted to be high in spring. 

Key Facts on Growing strawberry

  1. Strawberry prefers a temperature between 13 -22 Degree celsius. A minimum of 8 hours of full sun is required for better fruiting and flowering. The growth of the plant depends on both, weather and temperature.
  2. Strawberry is not finicky about soil but a Sandy loam or Loam soil is best suited for the cultivation of strawberries.
  3. Strawberry is perineal, the first-year yield should be avoided as much as possible and the flowers should be nipped off to prevent the plant from fruiting. Fruiting will cause the plant to shunt and the resources will be put to growing the fruit. Pinching the flowers will promote root and plant growth, this, in turn, will improve the yield in the second year.
  4. Strawberry plants will stay dormant in winter, especially when the temperature drops below 6 degrees Celsius at night. It is important to care for plants at this stage with proper mulching and deter pests like slugs. The plants will start full growth again once the temperature returns to normal.
  5. There is a wide range of varieties available in the market today. Chandler, Tioga, Torrey, Selva, Belrubi, Fern, and Pajaro are some of the common varieties available in India. Chandler is the most common and the highest yielding variety with Tioga in the second. 
  6. Strawberry roots are shallow and require constant moisture. It is not drought tolerant and care should be taken not to let the root dry. Overwatering is also a concern and may cause root rot and other diseases. Keeping the soil moist and not wet or too damp is key to preventing diseases and improving plant growth.
  7. An average yield of 8 Tonnes per acre is excellent. Yield up to 20 tonnes per acre have been recorded in some areas during peak season. 

Profit from strawberry Farming

Strawberry farming is one of the most profitable farming businesses with average returns of up to 4 Lakh 75 Thousand (Rs.475000) Per acre. The profit is far higher than most other crops. The data is based on the research conducted in Hisar and Bhiwani districts in Haryana in the year 2015-16 among a range of farmers, small-medium, and large. 

Factors affecting the profit primarily include 

  1. Costs of runners. : the cost of runners was noted to be the highest. When it came to setting up the farm. Approximately 1 Lakh 30 thousand rupees was spent on runners alone. The unavailability of runners and transportation of good runners from Himachal Pradesh costs more. Local varieties are often unreliable and the desired quantity is not available when required. 
  2. In the marketing stage, the packing and packaging material costs approximately 65% after the production stage and contributes to approximately  78,000 Rs. Proper packaging material is key for protecting the fruits while transportation. Buying in bulk is often cost-effective enabling farmers to save. But with large quantities comes the hassle of storing the packaging material in a safe place if unused.
  3. Cost of maintenance: In areas where winter goes below 6 degrees celsius, it is important to protect the crops. A low tunnel system is mandatory for plant protection. This is an extra cost for colder areas. The usual drip irrigation and fencing to prevent animals and pests also add to the cost in some areas.

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Strawberry farm Expenses

Pre Setup
Drip Irrigation24,696
Permanent fencing14,979
Low Tunnel 18,623
Land Preparation costs
Land Preparation4,453
Bed Preparation1,214
Manure12,550
Labour1,01,214
Runners1,31,174
Replacement Costs12,550
Fertilizers10,526
Irrigation10,121
Plant Protection34,412
Picking6,072
Miscellaneos2,631
Marketing Costs
Packaging material72,874
Packing 6,072
Loading Unloading2,186
Total Costs4,66,356

An average cost of 4.5 Lakh rupees to 5 Lakh rupees is to be expected in expenditure the first year to start a strawberry farm. Smaller farms incur more expenses, especially in the irrigation area. Larger farms incur more in fencing and costs of runners.

Yield Per acre of a strawberry farm. 

Strawberries are high-yielding crops. They produce approximately 6.5 tonnes of product per acre. The average price of the fruit is around 120 while the fruit could cost anywhere between 180-300 rs in the market per kilo. The price fluctuates depending on the season. Even with an average of 120 Rs per kilo, farmers can expect a Gross revenue of 8 Lakh Rupees approximately. The first-year net profit can be anywhere from 3-3.5 Lakh rupees. The profit for the second year is far more than the first year with costs of fencing, irrigation setup, and other non-recurring expenses out of the way. The profits per acre are noted to be over 5 Lakh rupees from the second year onwards.