STRAWBERRY CULTURE IN THE STATE OF VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA
Victoria's strawberry production extends from October through to April, growing the short day varieties Tioga, Red Gauntlet and to a lesser extent Shasta. Some newer U.C. and Dutch varieties will be available to our industry next season.
All growers have access to Government Agricultural Extension services. Our Department of Agriculture has recently involved itself in a strawberry plant breeding program, as growers to this time have been reliant on the adaptability of overseas varieties.
The area of plantings totals 400 hectares over the state with approximately 400 growers. Farm sizes range from 0.2 to 20 hectares. Fifty percent of plantings are in winter and fiftly percent are planted in the summer using cold-stored plants. Soil is bed fumigated prior to planting. Plant density is around 38,000 plants/hectare. A two year rotation system is used as the highest yields are obtained in the second year. The average yield is approximately 25 tonnes/ He. Plastic tunnels (or cloches) are used at the beginning and end of the season to extend the cropping period.
Ninety percent of production is within 30 km of the city of Melbourne. Melbourne has a temperate climate. It's annual rainfall is 800 mm, falling mainly in winter and spring. Summer temperatures average 25–28°C and daily winter temperatures average 10–12°C.
Unlike Europe we do not have co-operative marketing. Growers grow and market their own fruit in a central market place in Melbourne. Strawberries are sold interstate through a central wholesale market by commission brokers. Victorian strawberries have been increasingly exported to S.E. Asia and Europe over the last few years. At present these export markets average 300 tonnes annually.