THE SWEDISH STRAWBERRY PRODUCTION
Strawberry cultivation is the leading berry crop in Sweden. In 1984 the commercial area was 1 950 ha and the number of growers about 1 100. The official production was 8 800 tons/year. However, the true commercial production could perhaps be estimated to 14 000 tons. Many strawberries are also grown in home gardens, maybe as many as in commercial plantations. (Christensson and Persson, 1986).
The main production areas in the southern part of Sweden are the districts of Scania (21%), Blekinge (10%) and Kalmar (9%). Another rather concentrated district is around the big lakes of Vänern and Vättern (Finnerödja 11%, Östergötland 6%). However, strawberries are grown all over Sweden on lower altitudes, even along the coast of the Gulf of Bothnia and into the river valleys. The most northern large plantation is only one kilometre south of the Arctic circle.
For early harvest forcing under perforated plastic or tissue is used extensively. Strawberries is a traditional desert at Midsummer Eve (about 23 June) and the growers get the best price before this holiday. Without forcing the berries usually ripen shortly after mid-summer in the south and one month later in the northern part.
Most strawberries are planted in spring from bare-rooted over-wintering runner plants. In the south fresh summer plants are often used for planting in late summer or early autumn. Some growers produce early runners from propagation plots under forcing. The fields are usually harvested for 3 years. In the north almost 2 years are needed for establishing, followed by even 5–6 good cropping years. The berries are sold on the local or distant fresh market or for pick your own. Strawberries for processing are generally imported, predominantly from Easteuropean countries due to high picking costs in Sweden. Fresh strawberries are imported mostly from Spain and Italy until our own season starts.
The main variety in Sweden is the early ripening Zefyr of Danish origin, followed by Senga Sengana, especially for pick your own.