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Strawberry picking season starts in Belgium

10:09 15/05/2024

Belgium’s strawberry picking season is well under way, reaching its peak this week and lasting until June.

In Herve, Liège province, strawberry producer Sébastien Didderen grows about 12,000 strawberry plants at his farm Le Rubis du Plateau. Some are soil-less but most are grown in the ground.

"The advantages are in terms of taste," he told RTL. "The fruit are much better and plants in the soil produce much more."

The Belgian variety differs from its European neighbours, Didderen said. It has an “incomparable flavour” and is generally cut when ripe, unlike other European countries, said the producer who also makes apple and strawberry juice, strawberry jam and strawberry ‘peket’ - a type of fruit gin.

“We can introduce products [for example to treat the plants], but not after flowering. This is different to other countries that have a much wider range of phytosanitary products and where the government is not as strict.”

The season will last until the beginning of summer, in June. In that time, Didderen will sell more than 15,000 cartons or trays of strawberries. But he said that finding the workers to pick them is becoming "mission impossible".

“It was already difficult to find motivated people, who were prepared to get up very early in the morning. Since 1 April, we have been looking for flexible workers, but now it is no longer possible to classify fruit-growing as flexible work.”

This means that businesses such as Le Rubis are having to rely on the help of family and friends to harvest and sell this juicy symbol of summer.

Written by Liz Newmark