Rising to the challenge of greenhouse strawberry production

According to Greenhousecanada.com: More and more Canadian greenhouse growers are recognizing the unique opportunity that lies with strawberry production. With two years of COVID-19 behind Canadians, the value for fresh, locally grown fruit and vegetables is evident now more than ever, and growing strawberries under glass helps ensure they’re in supply all year long. 

Sunterra Greenhouse located an hour northeast of Calgary in Acme, Alta., is a recently constructed 20-acre greenhouse facility for tomato and strawberry production with plans to expand to 70 acres. According to Amanda Hehr, president of Sunterra Greenhouse, they’re the third greenhouse in North America to implement the lift gutter system for strawberries. “It’s more expensive, but it allows for 10 rows per eight-metre bay rather seven to eight rows at most with conventional systems,” says Hehr. It means better use of the growing space and higher plant density, and their next expansion may almost be exclusively strawberries. 

Starting with 2.5 acres of a novel Dutch variety, Sunterra planted their first crop in Nov 2021 and harvested their first batch of strawberries in Jan 2022. “There’s so much demand,” says Hehr, who estimates that Alberta imports 97 per cent of its strawberries. Since imported berries often have less quality and flavour, that leaves more opportunity for local greenhouse strawberry production. 

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