6 ha project brings high-tech strawberry cultivation to Russia

In the south of Russia, a six-hectare high-tech strawberry greenhouse is currently being constructed. Yuriy Bondariev, operation director and senior agronomist with Stavropol Flavor, the company behind the project, tells us more.

According to Yuriy, this is the first high-tech strawberry greenhouse in Russia. With 12 years of experience in soft fruit growing, he was able to choose the best technology and suppliers that he knows offer good price and quality, fitting in with the relevant climate conditions and strategy of the company.

High tech
This selection process led to the use of Richel greenhouses and a Meteor gutter system. "This leads to higher light transmission, hail resistance, better ventilation and a stable microclimate compared to traditional glasshouses", Yuriy says. "The Meteor system makes for an increased plant density and yield per m2 of 12.5%, compared to the traditional Dutch system, since they're providing a new growing system for us."

The company will also use a reverse osmosis system, as well as Priva climate and irrigation controls. "I also work with Delphy and Hortinova to stay up to date with current technology", Yuriy adds.

Skilled labor
Like everywhere, labor is also an issue in Russia. Stavropol Flavor are looking for workers in post-Soviet countries like Ukraine and Azerbaijan who possess the basic cultivation skills in relative fields like tomato production. "We then teach them and let them develop into specialists within the company", Yuriy says.

Strawberries and more
The reason for going with strawberries is quite simple. "We chose this crop because we have a high price on off-season product (from September till March), and we don't have any serious competitors in this field, only fruits from abroad."

The strawberries grown here are intended for clients in Moscow, St. Petersburg and other big Russian cities, like Volgograd and Kazan. Because Russian consumers are fond of sweet, traditional strawberries, Stavropol Flavor aims for a high Brix level. "We offer fruits from varieties with traditional taste, size, and color, like Elsanta and Sonata, as opposed to fruits from Egypt and Morocco for instance, which are low in Brix and big in size."

The new strawberry greenhouse is part of a larger agropark, with a total area of 41 hectares, where blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and red currants will be grown, mostly in plastic tunnels, for year-round production.

For more information:
Stavropol Flavour LLC
Yuriy Bondariev, Operation Director and Senior Agronomist

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