Latvian secret super-strawberry combats October chill

At first glance it seems unbelievable to see hundreds of flowering strawberry plants and long rows of red berries in greenhouses during the middle of October. Owner Ilmārs Gulbis didn’t heat the greenhouses in Laidi parish even on the days when temperatures fell below zero, yet the strawberries were unharmed.

“This is the first time we’ve grown strawberries so late in the fall,” says Gulbis. He doesn’t hide the fact that he has been looking for a variety that produces such a late yield for four years, and this year he finally succeeded.

“At first I was apprehensive about the flavor and aroma, but I was pleasantly surprised by the durability and size of the berries,” said Gulbis. 

The owner has no doubt that the strawberry plants will yield berries for at least another month, but adds that it all depends on the weather.

For the berries one sunny day a week is enough for the strawberries to receive everything they need. Gulbis sees future potential for covered strawberry cultivation in Latvia. This year the season began as early as April, but then it was still experimental. Next year the owner hopes to make a good amount of money, but admits that some aspects are yet untested, as the darkest time of year is approaching. 

October is the perfect time for fresh strawberries to appear in the market, as there is an abundance of other berries during the second half of summer, reasons the grower. He’s noticed that there isn’t a great demand for strawberries until the middle of September, but during the cooler weather people really want fresh berries.

“I’m a bit afraid to think about what will happen after a month if we’re successful in producing a yield, we’ll be knocked off our feet!” adds Gulbis.

The owner admits that they’ve still made a few mistakes and are constantly learning, searching for the best solutions. It took a lot of effort to understand how to multiply the variety, but now it’s clearly possible to grow strawberries in Latvia during the fall. The late variety, which yields sweet, aromatic berries during the fall, is currently a trade secret. Time will tell if these growing methods will be justified.

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