See the extract below and download the full technical advice sheet at the bottom of the page.
From a growing perspective this has been a difficult season so far. We had seven months of wet weather, followed by two months of hot, dry weather and this has caused problems in soft fruit. Avoid re-using old bags even through the current crop may be looking strong and healthy as the risk of disease and pest carry over can be difficult to avoid.
As plants are coming into fruit consider your plans for harvesting each crop.
As you move through the summer and make plans for next year, you could start thinking about crops for next year. A number of other products fit well with the PYO model and can supplement your business in a number of ways. Sweetcorn can be planted cheaply but sold at high value particularly as it will be at much higher value than that seen in supermarkets. Cut Sunflowers could be sold at three-for-£1 for basic varieties.
Think about what sort of customers are visiting your site and what products are likely to be attractive to them. Other crops like gooseberry can be helpful in bridging harvest periods and can be very popular even if only grown in small areas, in contrast the appeal of black and redcurrants is likely to be less but many growers are surprised how many people still want to use currents to make cassis, ice cream and redcurrant jelly, so find both crops easily sell out. Both crops (notably the redcurrants) have the added advantage over other soft fruit crops that if the correct cultivars are planted they will ripen relatively late and provided that the temperature in July and early August are not excessively high will stand sometimes for weeks and still be marketable e.g. the redcurrant Rovado .
More products will also increase the average spend per customer as there will be greater choice for them to take home. In recent years many growers have observed that customers like to visit more often these days (several times/week) pick your own or farm shops and relatively small amounts of fruit or vegetables at each visit, so make sure you have a good range of crops available to them at every visit throughout the harvest season. To do this with vegetables and flowers will require as with the strawberries and if your raspberries are now grown in substrate several plantings or sowings to obtain a harvest (selling period) of months rather than just a few weeks).
Download the full technical advice sheet here: Technical Advice Sheet Soft Fruit Notes – June
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