Luciano and Heather Corallo – Strawberry Springs Farm
The strawberry farm is 70 acres in area and can support up to half a million plants. There are 40-50 employees. The area in Millgrove was selected because of the soil temperatures and the quality of the soil. A soil that poses good temperatures can prolong the growing and hence the fruiting season. The soil, while slightly acidic, is enriched using phosphorus, potassium and lime. Ploughed in green crops on an annual rotation, also maintains beneficial soil structure. All planting is carried out in north/south rows as this allows the prevailing winds to blow along the beds rather that across them, thus minimising wing damage to the plants. The open air aspect also helps reduce the problem of mildew.
All planting is of the one variety and plants are replaced each year.
Plastic is used under the plants in order to keep fruit clean and easy to pick. The plastic also helps retain moisture which is supplied by drip irrigation. All runners are trimmed off so that the plant can concentrate on producing fruit.
Pest control is maintained by the release of beneficial insects and/or bugs rather than insecticide and chemical spraying. There is a need for occasional spraying when the problems of mildew and rot occur. Most pollination occurs from the wind and bees.
There is a new retail venture on the site to cater to those who wish to purchase strawberry products like cakes, biscuits, cheesecakes and sponges. You can also pick up some beautiful large, fresh strawberries in season between November and the end of January.
The strawberry industry has recognised Yarra Valley as at the ‘top end’ of the world list for both strawberry quality and flavour. Congratulations Strawberry Springs Farm.
There were numerous questions asked by the members and answers were delivered in a very professional manner.
Peter Versteege warmly thanked Luciano and Heather for their excellent and most interesting presentation.