Strawberries (questions)

Here is my goal- I would like to sell strawberries this summer at local farmers markets. I enjoy gardening and being outdoors, but I do have a few questions.
(1) If I try to get a crop of strawberries the first year I have my plants, will that harm future strawberry plant production? (2) What can I do to boost my first year strawberry crop? Would potting soil and liberal fertilizer use help? (3) Space is not an issue, I have several acres I can utilize. What would be the best way to plant about 400 strawberry plants?
I live in Louisville Kentucky.
Thanks David B
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".........(3) Space is not an issue, I have several acres I can utilize. What would be the best way to plant about 400 strawberry plants? ........"
If you want to sell at Farmers markets then I would have thought you would need to be growing 4000 or more plants to be worth going, also to grow a few varieties to spread the cropping season as long as possible
--
David Hill
Abacus nurseries
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Farmers markets in Kentucky aren't like the ones out West (California etc). What would I do with 4000 quarts of strawberries if they didnt sell (assuming each plant produces a quart of berries)? My family would be eating strawberries every night for supper haha.
But that is a good idea about mixing different strawberry varieties. Maybe I will have one patch with a large june-bearer species, another with an everbearer (or maybe a day-neutral species).
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"...........Farmers markets in Kentucky aren't like the ones out West (California etc). What would I do with 4000 quarts of strawberries if they didn't sell (assuming each plant produces a quart of berries)? My family would be eating strawberries every night for supper haha............"
Strawberries don't give you a crop all in one go, you would be picking every 2 or 3 days for about 4 weeks so would be getting about 250 quarts a pick on average, if your cropping figures were correct, though I doubt if you would get more than a third of that the first year,( you have to allow for sub standard fruit, bird loss and damage). Have a look at this site.... http://www.gardenaction.co.uk/fruit_veg_diary/fruit_veg_mini_project_february_2_strawberry.asp
I know it's UK but will give you an idea of what to do etc.You talk in quarts, I recon a quart of strawberries to be around 1 lb of fruit.
David Hill Abacus nurseries www.abacus-nurseries.co.uk
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Thsee are my observations from visiting several "pick your own"operations in central North Carolina and from growing up on a farm.
Strawberries at the pick-your-own operations are grown on raised rows with black plastic to prevent the weeds and to increase the soil temperatures. The row "middles" are strewn with straw (guess this both acts to keep the weeds down and keeps one's feet drier on wet days.)
Strawberries are very perishable, especially on hot days. The first picking from June-bearers has the largest berries. Too much fertilizer seems to reduce the sweetness of the berries.
Most of the strawberry producers don't anticipate commercial yields from first year crops. I notice that most of these same producers tend to "rotate" fields and only use a patch of strawberries for two or three years before plowing the entire field under.
What kind of help will you have? It will be hard to pick those berries and get them to market (remember not to bruise them) if you are the only person involved. It will be a lot of work.
Check with your local extension agent for info about strawberries in your area.
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You haven't researched strawberries AT ALL, have you?

The backbreaking way. Individually by hand, bending from the waist*, same as weeding and harvesting. Enjoy :-)
Commercial harvest-transport-sale of such delicate and perishable fruit takes some knowledge and skill. I'd suggest you start by growing strawbs on a smaller scale just for family use, and use the first couple of seasons to experiment with different varieties. Then you can work out which best suit your location, climate and market, and how to extend the harvest. You probably won't want 400 plants which ripen simultaneously, and you definitely don't want them to do it right when the local market is glutted with strawberries.
Janet (ex commercial picker.*Kneeling or crawling in the strawberry fields was a sackable offence)
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Are the small alpine variety strawberries commercially viable? The berries they produce are so tiny I imagine some people would just laugh at them. But I have heard they are very sweet.
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The small alpine variety strawberries are the Luxury end of the market.
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David Hill
Abacus nurseries
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