Strawberries: The brighter the fruit, the sweeter the juice

Known for their bright red colour, juicy texture and sweetness, strawberries were first cultivated in Rome and are now the most popular berry fruit in the world. Once picked, the fruit doesn’t ripen further. Strawberries are grown in Gauteng, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape in South Africa. However, it is important to note that it is planted from February to March in Gauteng and the Free State. From March to June in KwaZulu-Natal and March to May in the Western Cape. 

They should be planted as early as possible during these periods because the degree of growth prior to winter will determine the production potential. Planting usually occurs in staggered double rows with in-row and diagonal spacing. However, spacing can be different, depending on the amount of space and climate. Plants shouldn’t be planted too densely as it will create beneficial conditions for pests and diseases, which will also affect the harvesting of the fruit. Planting can also be done in planting boxes or used motor vehicle tyres and should be positioned in a sunny area.

Strawberry production saw an increase in the 2016/2017 season, with a total of 7,2 thousand metric tons of strawberries being produced, which was a significant increase of 8,9% from the previous season. Strawberries exported from South Africa are exported to Swaziland, Namibia and Mozambique.

The Selekta and Chandler varieties are the popular varieties in South Africa. They are both suitable for the fresh market. The Selekta type is long and wedge-shaped, red in colour, has an attractive glossy shine and a high sugar content, while the Chandler type is firm with a distinct strawberry aroma and also has a high sugar content.

According to the South African Growers’ Association, the strawberries are packed with vitamins, fibre and high levels of antioxidants. They are fat-free, cholesterol-free and low in calories. A single serving, about eight strawberries, provides more vitamin C than an orange.

Summer days are for picnics next to a lake - why not go strawberry picking? There are various strawberry farms in South Africa which offer strawberry picking alongside your picnic basket or a strawberry smoothie in their coffee shops. provides a guide to growing the best strawberries for beginners, suitable for home growing in small batches or larger quantities.