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Consumers continue to prefer domestic strawberries:

Early kick-off for the strawberry season

The weather has been favorable for strawberry plants this year: there have been neither frosty nights nor storms. Even prolonged rain and mild winter temperatures have so far not negatively affected the strawberry plants. They are mostly grown on mounds, avoiding waterlogging, and are protected in high tunnels as early strawberries at the beginning of the season. In southern Germany, the strawberry harvest can gradually start around April 15 in the tunnels. In the cooler regions of Germany, the strawberry season begins about 14 days later.

"After many gray and rainy days, we are looking forward to the strawberry season even more. Thanks to the tunnels, the sensitive strawberries are well protected against wind and weather, can be protected against pests by beneficial insects, and thus fully develop their aroma undisturbed. For the first time, we celebrate this fragrant and sweet fruit on May 24 with the 'Day of German Strawberries'", says Simon Schumacher, board spokesperson of the Association of South German Asparagus and Strawberry Growers e. V. (VSSE).

Quiet preparation phase ensures a good start to the strawberry season
The assessment of the current situation for domestic strawberries is consistently positive: "Everything is fine with the strawberries. So far, there has been no frost, no storm, and no heat. The mild winter has not yet presented a problem. The strawberries are growing slowly. I expect the harvest to begin around April 15, says Christof Steegmüller, strawberry cultivation advisor in Baden-Württemberg and the Palatinate.

"We are relatively early this year with the strawberries, due to the mild winter. The harvest will probably start in mid-April. Since there are predominantly light soils in South Hesse, there have been no noticeable damages due to high water levels so far", says Katrin Hetebrügge, strawberry cultivation advisor in Hesse.

For West Germany, strawberry cultivation advisor Simon Schrey from the North Rhine-Westphalia Chamber of Agriculture makes the following assessment: "In general, the strawberry plants are developing well. After a very warm winter, it looks like an early season. I expect the harvest to start in the early locations in the middle or end of week 16."

From Northern Germany, strawberry cultivation advisor Tilman Keller reports: "The strawberry plants are just blooming here. It's a very early year. We expect the harvest to begin around April 28 in Hamburg and Lower Saxony. In Schleswig-Holstein, the strawberry season will start a bit later."

Thanks to protected cultivation, customers can enjoy domestic strawberries during the main season from April to July.

Strawberry fans still prefer domestic strawberries
In 2023, 53.5% of private households in Germany bought German strawberries at least once. This is largely consistent with the level of the previous year (2022 was 53.8 percent.) According to figures from the GfK household panel, each household bought a total of 4.13 kg (2022: 4.34 kg/HH) of strawberries of all origins in 2023. Of these, 2.09 kg (2022: 2.12 kg/HH), or just under 51 percent, were German strawberries. The self-sufficiency rate was 53.4 percent in 2023, slightly higher than in 2022 with 52.9 percent, which, according to the Agricultural Market Information Company (AMI), is due to a quite significant decline in imports.

A high self-sufficiency rate of strawberries is an active contribution to sustainability and environmental protection, as the transport distances are short and water availability is present in the main German strawberry growing areas.

Review of the 2023 season
According to the Federal Statistical Office, the strawberry harvest in 2023 in Germany fell by almost 2 percent to 130,649 tons compared to the previous year. This was due to a decrease in the yield area in open fields by 6.5 percent to 9,324 hectares. The number of farms growing strawberries decreased again by 4 percent to 1,842 farms.

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