Up until a few years ago chemical treatment was the only known way to deal with most issues that confronted strawberry producers. Strawberries have been known in the past as being amongst the most sprayed of crops along with a few others mainly the soft fruit.
In 2006 we began to use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) systems in the management of our crops. This has significantly reduced the amount of sprays used on the crop. The bug used is the persimilus bug which is a voracious feeder of the two spotted mite or spider mite. This is a major pest of many crops throughout the World. The persimilis predator has effectively halved the use of chemicals here at Forest Hill Farms. We are not organic growers however we use a very limited spray program and only use a chemical when absolutely necessary. We will often leave a spray until there is more than an economic issue to address. This means that sometimes there will be very minor blemishes on the fruit as we limit the use of chemicals.
Nutrition plays a big part in the management of these crops as well and while we might be spraying we might not be using a chemical but an enhancement “over the top” to improve the ability of the crop to thrive. Strawberries are a difficult crop to grow. They demand constant management of irrigation and nutrition and a fair bit of good luck from the weather to produce a viable crop.