Winter strawberries at Redberry Farm
Strawberries are known as a sweet tropical fruit enjoyed in the summertime. In South Africa strawberry season is from August to December. This is when most commercial farms harvest strawberries and sell to international and local markets.
At Redberry Farm we pride ourselves in having juicy, sweet strawberries available 365 days a year. Visitors can come throughout the year to pick their own strawberries fresh from the fields and experience the country life and sweet berry experience. Redberry Farm is only able to achieve this with various farming practices that makes the whole operation successful. Slope direction, soil preparation, planting dates and plant manipulations are the core building blocks to Redberry Farm’s ability to produce strawberries efficiently.
Redberry Farm is ideally located in George, South Africa. A moderate climate is one of the key elements needed for successful strawberry farming. As it is a delicate fruit, harsh sun, intense winds, and torrential rain will damage the plant and the fruit. The climate of George is subtropical oceanic, with very mild winters, little to no frost and warm temperate summers. Rain is well distributed throughout the year, there is not a clear indication that George is a winter or summer rainfall area, although there is less rain from August to November.
Variety of plants
Redberry Farm purchases seedlings from commercial strawberry nurseries in South Africa. More than five different varieties are planted every year at specific times to produce only the highest quality of fruit throughout the year. The plant genetics are imported from Israel, Australia, California, and Spain. Some of the varieties are part of Plant Sciences breeding program in Europe and California. Trial blocks are also planted to determine if the plant is suitable for the area and farming techniques applied. Varieties are picked based on shelf life, resistance to diseases, sweetness, hardiness of fruit and export quality.
Redberry Farm removes all strawberry plants annually and plants new seedlings to ensure high yields and quality strawberries to consumers. To get the most out of the varieties the farmer pays careful attention to when the seedlings should be planted. Planting will commence throughout the year in intervals to ensure the availability of fruit. Redberry Farm plants in February, April, and September to ensure sweet strawberries throughout the year.
Extensive planning and successful management of labour and strawberry blocks plays an integral part in the success of Redberry Farms strawberry harvest. Picking groups pick different blocks every day in a rotational system to ensure each block of strawberries gets picked at the correct time. Strawberries are picked directly into the punnets and sorted, weighed, and palletised at the packhouse.
Redberry Farm uses a paperless system in the field to capture each pickers crates and to keep track of the quantities picked every day. A custom-built app is used on a tablet by a supervisor to capture all the data.
Groups are made up of 30 pickers with 1 runner for 5 pickers who collects the punnets.
A Year Filled with Strawberries
Hard work and commitment from the farmer and labour, Redberry Farm can proudly guarantee sweet, juicy strawberries to enjoy – even during the cold winter months. Visitors can still come to pick their own strawberries or purchase freshly picked from the Farm Stall!