First Latvian strawberries expected at end of May

The first Latvian strawberries could be ready in the second half of May, strawberry growers surveyed by LETA said.

Guntars Dzērve, agronomist for the Augusta Zemenes brand, said that strawberry growers who plant strawberries in covered areas, greenhouses, and tunnels have planted their plants and the harvest is expected around the end of May or beginning of June. Field planting of strawberries could also start soon.

Dzērve also pointed out that last year the reduced 5% value added tax (VAT) rate was increased to 12%, so this year Latvian strawberry growers will have to compete with imported strawberries.

Mālpils zemenes Ltd said that this year's unusually warm spring had accelerated the vegetation processes of strawberry plants, so that the first strawberries could be on sale around June 15. Last year, 'Mālpils zemenes' started selling on June 19.

The farm notes that the harvest in Vidzeme usually started one to two weeks later than in Zemgale, so strawberries could be on sale earlier in other parts of Latvia.

When asked about this year's strawberry acreage, Mālpils zemenes representatives noted that each year part of the acreage is dug up and new plants planted elsewhere the following spring. The area changes from year to year as the crop rotates. However, as long as the farm can harvest and maintain the fields, there is no reason to reduce the area. The company also stated that seven hectares of new seedlings are planned this year.

Mālpils zemeņes also explained that yields depend on weather conditions and pests and are therefore difficult to predict. For example, last year's new plantings were severely damaged by mayfly larvae. The company also said that it was important to pay attention to frosts.

However, this was an unusually warm March and April was also warmer than usual, which has led to a faster start of the vegetation process. The weather has been very favorable for strawberries at present.

Last year, strawberries were planted on 483 hectares in Latvia, 792 tonnes were harvested and an average of 820 kilograms of strawberries were produced per hectare, according to the Central Statistical Bureau.

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