Strawberries have a history that goes back 2200 years and can be traced back as far as the Romans, and possibly even the Greeks. Strawberries grew wild in Italy as long ago as 234 B.C., although the fruit was not discovered in America until 1588 when the first Europeans landed in Virginia. The early settlers enjoyed eating strawberries grown by Native Americans, who cultivated strawberries around 1643. By 1860, strawberries were being widely grown in many parts of America. Strawberries got their name when children threaded them into straw and offered them for sale. Commercial strawberry production first began in Louisiana in 1876. Louisiana consistently ranks in the Top 10 in U.S strawberry production.
Strawberries are a member of the rose family and are produced as annuals. They usually are planted near good water sources both to enhance irrigation and for frost control. Land preparation begins in June with producers liming the soil and planting cover crops. Few plants are produced in Louisiana. Most growers buy their plants from commercial growers around the country. These plants are planted by hand starting in October through early November. Plants are irrigated daily for the first 7-10 days to ensure establishment of the plants. After a strawberry plant blooms, it takes about one month to produce a ripe strawberry. In most years, harvest begins in February and continues to May. Strawberry plants are unique; during the harvest season, the plants will continue to produce fruit. Because the plants keep producing, they may be picked two to three times during one week.
* Pics – strawberry field pictures, early growth (flowers), mature with berries
Strawberries are sold fresh, frozen or made into preserves, and are also used in the manufacturing of many food products. They are used in some skincare products and tooth whiteners. Strawberries also have been used as a natural remedy for sunburns and to aid digestion.
* Pics – Fresh Berries
“BERRY” FUN FACTS
75% of a strawberry’s roots are located in the top 3" of soil.
Strawberries are a member of the rose family.
Strawberries are grown in every state and every province of Canada
There are about 200 seeds on the outside of each strawberry.
Strawberries are packed with antioxidants including vitamin C. One serving of eight medium-sized strawberries has only 45 calories and provides an adult with 140 percent of their Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of vitamin C, 210 milligrams of potassium and almost 3 grams of fiber. Additionally, leading health research links diets high in fruits and vegetables to a reduced risk of heart disease and various types of cancer.
Strawberry varieties that historically have produced well in Louisiana are classified as short-day varieties. For these varieties, flowers are initiated during short days and cool temperatures in the fall and winter months and fruit appears in the late winter and early spring in Louisiana when conditions are favorable for good quality fruit production. Varieties that performed well in LSU AgCenter trials in 2010 through 2013 included: Festival, Benicia and Sweet Ann. Other varieties that tend to perform well in the state include: Camarosa, Camino Real and Chandler. Choose Festival for a medium-sized berry and excellent production. Benicia produces slightly softer, but larger berries than Festival. Combining Benicia and Festival plants would provide excellent production throughout the season in the home garden. Sweet Ann strawberries actually are a day neutral plant. Sweet Ann berries have long, large fruit and are not as disease resistant as Festival and Benicia. Sweet Ann does, however, produce an excellently flavored berry, but it does not ripen all the way up to the shoulder. Both the interior and the exterior of the fruit, along the shoulder, tend to remain white, even when the fruit is fully ripe. Because of the lack of red color when ripening, commercial production of St. Ann is not recommended.
TERMS TO KNOW
Day-neutral plant - A plant that flowers regardless of the amount of daylight it receives
Irrigation - The supply of water to land or crops to help growth
Short-day plant - A plant that flowers when it is exposed to long periods of darkness and short periods of light.
Strawberry Delight Cake
1 18 ½ ounce box Duncan Hines yellow cake mix
1 8 ounce package Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
1 8 ounce container Cool Whip, thawed
1 16 ounce frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed
Prepare cake mix according to package directions.
Allow cake to cool and split layers in half.
Beat cream cheese; add Cool Whip. Drain half of the syrup from strawberries; add strawberries and ½ syrup to cheese mixture.
Beat well. Frost each layer and top cake with a heavy frosting.
Refrigerate. Improves second day.
Louisiana Farm Bureau Women Cookbook
Submitted by Grace Graugnard of St. James Parish
California Ag in the Classroom