October 2018


The Delectable Strawberry
October 2018




White tunnels stretched out as far as the eye could see under a crisp blue sky. Above us, fluffy clouds drifted below the midday sun. The air had a freshness that only high altitudes can bring and an overwhelmingly tempting aroma of strawberries enveloped us.


Words: Gayathri Kothalawala
Photography: Vishwathan Tharmakulasingham and Geeth Viduranga


At an altitude of over 1,700 metres, the sun beat down mercilessly, only counteracted by the refreshingly cool wind that flirted with the nearby tree tops. But the weather was the furthest concern from our minds as we walked past the arched tunnels of a large strawberry farm in Nuwara Eliya.


Underneath the tunnels were row upon of row of lush green strawberry plants, laden with ripened, half-ripened and un-ripened fruits. Delicately five petaled white flowers with a cheery yellow centre peeked through the broad leaves.


Strawberries are a popular perennial fruit that belongs to the rose family. Interestingly enough, its name is misleading; they are not technically berries. Rather, they are an accessory fruit, meaning that the flesh is not derived from the ovary. The yellow seeds that dot the epidermis of the strawberry are the actual fruits.

Underneath the tunnels were row upon of row of lush green strawberry plants, laden with ripened, half-ripened and un-ripened fruits.


Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C and K and also contains fibre, potassium and folic acid. Throughout history, they have been used as a remedy against digestive ailments and skin irritations and to regulate blood sugar levels. Although strawberry is a common favourite the world over, yielding a good harvest requires constant attention on the part of the farmer. The strawberry bushes are susceptible to diseases and pest attacks.


In general, there are three categories of strawberries; June-bearing, day-neutral and ever-bearing. Within these three categories, there are numerous varieties that have their own peculiarities and unique features. These delectably temperate fruits are largely grown in regions with mild temperatures. The beautiful hill country of Sri Lanka is therefore an ideal location for strawberry farms.

Carefully plucked by deft hands strawberries are then zealously packaged so that the fruits are not damaged.


June-bearing and day-neutral categories are common in temperate countries where the day time hours depend on the season.


What we find in Sri Lanka is predominantly the ever-bearing category, which yields a harvest throughout the year.


There are several ways in which farmers plant these delicate bushes. One such method involves specially prepared coco peat filled soil bags placed in a row on elevated berths. The bushes are planted within the bags and a tube that runs through the bags provides the necessary nutrients.


In addition to the fertilizer and the care of the farmer, these bushes also require adequate sunshine. When the weather conditions are ideal, a good harvest can be yielded. Strawberries have a rich flavour; a perfect balance between sweetness and sourness. However, changing weather patterns such as heavy monsoonal rains can affect the harvest. Some of the sweetest strawberries are produced in Japan and South Korea, while Sri Lanka is slowly embracing the interventions that enhance the sweetness of the fruit. A strawberry bush may take about three months to bear flowers once it is planted, and the fruit takes about one month to ripen. Although a ripe and plucked fruit may not have a long life, proper post-harvesting procedures help to preserve the freshness for some time.


The well-packaged fruit embarks on a fascinating journey from the moment it is plucked, to the moment it gets to your hand. As one of the most preferred flavours in the world, strawberry is often incorporated in many recipes, and can be used to make cakes, juices, jams, cookies, meringues and several other treats.


Carefully plucked by deft hands strawberries are zealously packaged so that the fruits are not damaged.While visitors to temperate Nuwara Eliya can easily purchase freshly plucked strawberries straight from the farms that dot the region, thanks to our diligent strawberry farmers, this succulent fruit is easily available islandwide throughout the year.


Information and assistance provided by Jagath Fernando, Managing Director, Jagro Strawberry Farm, Nuwara Eliya.

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    Wide and extensive tunnels protect the fruits from the sun, pests and birds

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    Elevated berths where the bushes are grown inside a strawberry nursery

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    The harvest is carefully plucked by diligent farmers

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    From a young bud to a mature fruit

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    A delicate strawberry flower in full bloom

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    The fascinating journey of the fruit begins

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    A tender fruit takes nearly a month to mature

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    The ripening strawberrry takes on a vivid red hue

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