Strawberry growing innovations make the popular fruit even sweeter

A team at Shanghai's Jiao Tong University announced recently that they have developed solutions to make strawberries even sweeter, all while being kinder to the environment.
Ti Gong

A member of Xu's team picks strawberries in their experimental field.

A team at Shanghai's Jiao Tong University announced recently that they have developed solutions to make strawberries even sweeter, all while being kinder to the environment.

Xu Wenping, from the university’s School of Agriculture and Biology, said traditional methods require planting the seedlings first and mulching the ridges later, leading to the thriving of weeds. Greenhouse film is also traditionally added later, leading to fields high in humidity that can easily cause disease and insect problems. In these conditions, farmers need to use more pesticides.

Xu and his team spent 10 years coming up with new solutions.

They mulch the ridges to reduce the growth of weeds first, and cover the greenhouse throughout the growth process to prevent diseases and insects by reducing humidity.

The film they use is silver and reflects light, different from the widely used black film. Xu said the diffused light helps the strawberries grow better.

They then plant special seedlings they developed themselves which are stronger and have more roots than others. This helps to achieve a higher survival rate and lower sick rate.

They also use rice husks to keep the environment dry and warm and plant garlic beside the strawberry plants to repel insects.

All of these processes combined means they don’t have to use as many pesticides as traditional farmers, making the fruit safer to eat.

“The environment in our experimental field is so clean and comfortable that we can wear business suits to do work and don’t have to worry about getting dirty,” Xu said.

All their efforts have paid off as the strawberries in their experimental fields are big and sweet, with a beautiful red color.

Strawberries cultivated by a farm utilizing their solutions won a tasting competition in January. Xu and his team are now trying to promote their findings widely.

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