comparing open field, covers & greenhouses

"Strawberry companies spread risk by combining cultivation methods"

Flanders has 530 strawberry companies. From 733 hectares of open fields and 454 hectares under protection they annually produce over 45,000 tons of strawberries. The production is mainly located in the provinces of Antwerp and Limburg. Specialized companies often combine cultivation methods in order to spread the risk. This is shown in new reports about the strawberry cultivation in Flanders.

An average specialised strawberry company in the conducted research produces 150 tons of strawberries per 4 hectares of acreage. 18% of the production is cultivated outdoors, 25% of the cultivation comes from accessible covers and 58% from greenhouses.

Capital intensive cultivation yields more proceeds
It might come as a surprise, but the production is greater when the amount of plants is greater. Also substrate growing produces more than open field growing and greenhouses give a higher production than foil covered production, which gives a higher production than open field growing.

The sales price is very dependent on the time it is sold and the quality of the product. That is why the price of strawberries from heated greenhouses is much higher than the price of strawberries that were cultivated outdoors.

Both variables enhance each other, which is why the proceeds follow the pattern of capital intensiveness in many ways. This can be seen in the average production of greenhouses: harvesting around 550 kilograms per 0.01 hectare of cultivated strawberries and bringing in proceeds of around 2,045 euros.

Cultivation from accessible covers produces around 333 kilograms of strawberries per 0.01 hectare and makes proceeds of 833 euros, and the outdoor cultivation comes in last with a production of 205 kilograms and 448 euros per 0.01 hectare.

More proceeds, but also higher costs
Capital intensive cultivation makes for greater proceeds but also experiences higher variables in terms of fixed costs. The most important variable costs are seasonal labor and in seed and propagating material. For heated crops, the costs of heating will also need to be taken into account. The depreciation and fictitious interest determine the largest part of the fixed costs.

The proceeds and costs lead to gross balance and familial income. The gross balance of the specialized companies in the sample test is always very positive and averages at 547 euros per 0.01 hectare. The familial income is almost always positive and has an average of 265 euros per 0.01 hectare of cultivated strawberries. The production under heated glass scores best with a gross balance and familial income of 1,132 and 723 euros per 0.01 hectare of cultivated strawberries.

The other cultivation methods achieve lower values of which the outdoor open field cultivation scores lowest with an average of 129 and 50 euros per 0.01 hectare respectively. Specialized strawberry companies mostly try to aim at a diverse and well spread out production by combining cultivation methods. By using supplementary lighting they can cultivate year round.

The complete report (in Dutch) is available on www.vlaanderen.be/landbouw/studies.


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