IARN — A Canadian strawberry farm on the north shore of Lake Erie wants to hold the title as the world’s largest grower of hot-house strawberries.
Mucci Farms – based out of Kingsville, Ontario – is one of Canada’s largest fruit and vegetable greenhouse operations. They recently held an open-house to showcase expansion plans to double the size of their current 36 acre year-round indoor strawberry facility to 72 acres. Joe Spano is a vice-president with Mucci Farms. He says they are investing $1 million per acre in a “Phase One” expansion.
“We will be the largest in North America” Spano said. “And from what we hear, in one single area, it would be the world, of an indoor, enclosed, high-tech greenhouse facility. It’s a $24 million investment for us, and we’re adding another 12 acres, which will be another $12 million for the next phase. So, in total it will be a $36 million investment for our full production of the berries.”
Spano says an enclosed facility is expensive, but it allows growing of strawberries nearly year-round, and in a pesticide-free environment.
“We do not spray any pesticides,” said Spano. “Normally it’s regular practice for us to have our biologicals to control any pest-management that’s in the facility. A lot of it has to do with the raised gutter-system that we have here, and the substrates that we’re growing in. And the glass that we put on the roof structure, because it is a diffused glass.”
Danny Mucci told reporters that the much larger volumes and improved strawberry varieties allows their product to compete with field producers in the United States.
“We went on shelf at 4-99 and 5-99 for a 12-ounce clam-shell, and we were competing right next to some of the California field producers,” Mucci said. “And they were out there for 2, one-pounders for 5-dollars, and we were selling out. So, we can compete. They’re going to have a problem competing with us.”
The field-grown strawberry season in Canada typically runs through the month of June.
Story courtesy of the Iowa Agribusiness Radio Network