By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer
What is an Elsanta strawberry? Strawberry ‘Elsanta’ (Fragaria x ananassa ‘Elsanta’) is a vigorous plant with deep green foliage; large flowers; and big, shiny, mouthwatering berries that ripen in mid-summer. This robust plant is easy to grow and a cinch to harvest, making it a good choice for beginning gardeners. Interested in growing Elsanta strawberries? Read on for more information.
Elsanta is a Dutch variety that has risen to prominence over the years due to its reliable yield and disease resistance. It is a supermarket favorite because of its quality, firmness, and long shelf life. It is grown across the United States and Europe.
Some people have complained that Elsanta and other supermarket strawberries have lost their flavor, but it is theorized that this occurs when plants are overwatered in order to grow them quickly. This is a good reason for growing Elsanta strawberries at home!
Plant Elsanta strawberries in a sunny, sheltered location as soon as the ground can be worked in spring. Early planting allows the plants to become well established before the arrival of hot weather.
Strawberries require well-drained soil, so dig in a generous quantity of compost or other organic material before planting, along with a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer. Elsanta strawberries also do well in raised beds and containers.
Don’t plant strawberries where tomatoes, peppers, potatoes or eggplant have been grown; the soil may harbor a serious disease known as verticillium wilt.
Strawberries produce best with full sunlight for at least six to eight hours per day.
Allow about 18 inches (46 cm.) between plants, and avoid planting too deeply. Ensure the crown of the plant is slightly above the surface of the soil, just covering the tops of the roots. The plants will begin producing runners and “daughter” plants in four to five weeks.
During the first growing season, remove blooms as soon as they appear to encourage development of more runners and a bigger crop in following years.
Feed the plants after the first harvest in mid-summer, beginning in the second year, using a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer. Feed container-grown strawberries every other week throughout the growing season, using a water-soluble fertilizer.
Water frequently but not excessively. In general, about an inch (2.5 cm.) of water is sufficient, although the plants may need a little extra during hot, dry weather and while the plants are setting fruit.
Weed the strawberry patch regularly. Weeds will draw moisture and nutrients from the plants.
Mulch plants with well-rotted manure or compost in spring, but use mulch sparingly if slugs and snails are a problem. In this case, consider using plastic mulch. Treat slugs and snails with commercial slug bait. You may be able to control slugs with beer traps or other homemade solutions.
Cover the plants with plastic netting to protect the berries from birds.
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Read more about Strawberry Plants
Elsanta: one of the most cultivated varieties
Elsanta is a very firm strawberry variety with a good shelf life. The high production, firmness and long shelf life of the fruit make Elsanta extremely suitable for both the grower and the trade. The large fruits have a good flavour with a strong strawberry aroma. Elsanta is grown in large parts of Europe and on a large scale.
Elsanta has a good flavour and strong strawberry aroma. The fruits are firm and conical with a shiny, red colour. The fruit is red inside, but the core remains white. The crown is firmly attached to the fruit. Elsanta's fruit has a strong skin which makes it more insensitive to damage due to pressure, thus very suitable for eating fresh.
Flowering and harvest periods
Elsanta is characterised by its robust, wide fruit with long sturdy inflorescences. Elsanta produces fairly large flowers. The stamens of the first flowers are often somewhat weaker. The other flowers often have fair to well developed stamens. Elsanta's ripening period is of an average length. When continuously cultivated, Elsanta ripens an average of two days earlier than Sonata. If grown in the field, Elsanta is usually one or two days earlier than Sonata. In a 60-day culture, the harvest is more concentrated than that of Sonata, whereby the fruits are soon smaller.
Elsanta's yield is high to very high and can be compared with Sonata's. The fruits are easy to pick because they are robust and the plants have long sturdy inflorescences. The small sepals are characteristic. The percentage of deformed fruits is higher than that for Sonata, especially if grown in early spring. The class I share for Sonata is also higher than that for Elsanta.
Susceptibility to disease
Elsanta is susceptible to the following diseases:
- wilt (Verticillium dahliae)
- crown rot (Phytophthora cactorum)
- red core (Phytophthora fragariae)
- fruit rot (Colletotrichum acutatum)
Elsanta is somewhat more susceptible to mildew (Sphaerotheca mac.)
Elsanta can be used for all types of cultivation, indoor as well as outdoor, and from early to fairly late. The variety can also be grown well in the vegetable garden. Elsanta is grown in large parts of Europe. In contrast to Sonata, Polka and Korona, Elsanta is sensitive to frost. Due to its sensitivity to wilt, Elsanta is less suitable for cultivation in soil in which potatoes or strawberries have been grown.
Description of Elsanta Plants & Fruit:
This is one of the most common commercially grown strawberries. The big, glossy fruit has great flavour, stores well, while the plants are vigorous and crop heavily. Your homegrown crops will be much better than most specimens that you find in the supermarket. A lot of mass-produced soft fruit is grown using techniques that force water into the fruit to make a profit. This is why the flavour can be less than impressive.
Browse all of our other Strawberry Plants.
Not suitable for organic growing and it is slightly less hardy than average, so it will benefit greatly from frost protection during winter. All strawberries need a well drained soil and this is especially true here, as it is prone to root rot on clay soil.
This is a Dutch variety.
Delivery: Our standard delivery charges are:
*Surcharges to the Highlands and Islands still apply.
Because couriers sometimes experience delays, we schedule delivery by week, not by day. Therefore, please plan your planting day for the weekend at the end of the delivery week or for the week following delivery, at the earliest.
We will email you the day before your plants are due to arrive.
Payment: We do not charge your card until we begin to prepare your order for packing.
Guarantee: If any plants die within a year, we will replace them. We only ask that you follow our planting & growing instructions and sent us clear photographs of the dead plants in situ, so we can help to make sure that the replacement plants succeed. You only pay for the delivery of the replacements.
Please note that our guarantee is void if there is a hosepipe ban in your area: your newly planted hedging must be watered in dry weather while it is establishing. The best way to water is very thoroughly every few days: at least once a week in summer if there is no heavy rain.
Our nursery has been supplying container grown and bareroot hedging plants to gardeners, farmers and town planners since 1949. Our website started in 2003, so we do understand the concerns that you may have about buying hedging plants online. If any of your plants are damaged when they arrive or if you are otherwise not satisfied with your order after you inspect it, please repackage it and contact us. We will give you a refund or send replacements and send a courier to come and collect the unwanted plants.
This plant is semi-evergreen, so it can lose some of its leaves in winter. In colder regions or more exposed gardens, it may lose them all, but then fresh new foliage appears again in spring.
An excellent strawberry that produces masses of glossy, highly aromatic fruit that have a good shelf life. Great for the home grower as the strawberries have a delicious taste and it can grow on most soils. The orange-red fruit are produced from mid-June to mid-July.
Garden care:These strawberry runners are sent out as bare root (ie not potted up or in soil) plants. They are completely dormant, so any remaining foliage or stems will look shrivelled and dry. They should be planted out within a couple of days of arrival. Once they are planted out, they will emerge from their dormancy and start to put on new growth in spring (or within a 4 - 6 weeks if planted in spring).
Choose a spot in full sun and prepare the bed well by removing all the weeds and digging in a generous amount of compost. You can also work in some general purpose fertiliser if planting in spring. When you are ready to plant, fill a bucket with tepid water and leave the plants to soak for 20 minutes. This will rehydrate the roots. While they are soaking, prepare the planting holes - these should be approximately twice as wide as the strawberries root system. Plant the strawberries so the crown (the point where the roots meet the stem) is at soil level, and spread the roots out before re-filling with soil. Space them at 45cm intervals, allowing 75cm between each row. After planting, immediately give them a thorough water and apply a generous layer of mulch around the base of the plants, being careful to avoid the crown. Keep the plants well watered, especially during warmer weather and when the fruits are developing. When the strawberries are starting to form, a thick layer of straw or a strawberry mulch mat can be placed under the plants to stop the fruit touching the soil. Sheets of black plastic mulch can also be used, and this will also help retain soil moisture, reduce weeds and encourage early cropping. Strawberries can also be planted in tubs, containers and hanging baskets.
The interview’s location has changed this time due to circumstances. We are not speaking to Steven Oosterloo, Flevo Berry’s Commercial Director at his office in Ens, the Netherlands, but at his home. At a suitable distance, we asked him about the chances of year-round strawberry cultivation in Northern Europe and other developments. “We can say that this year, for the first time, there is a turning point in the strawberry world,” says Steven. “The time of growers having only one variety is over. With our varieties, such as the Sonsation and Favori, there is more diversity on the field than only Elsanta strawberries.”
Steven Oosterloo, Flevo Berry’s Commercial Director
Although Steven is working from home, not everyone at Flevo Berry can. The company’s core business is, after all, breeding strawberries, and that is not possible in a kitchen. Certainly not when spring is in the air, because despite Flevo Berry's mission - to give farmers the opportunity to be able to cultivate strawberries year-round - spring remains a peak period. “With this weather, we are hard at work planting.”
Marcel Suiker, breeder and R & D director at Flevo Berry
“Our breeders are busy implementing the necessary buffers to anticipate possible future staff shortages due to illness. If that happens, the strawberries will, after all, not stop growing. We currently have several potential varieties in the greenhouses, and then it is important not to lag behind. We are now looking closely at which selections are good and which are not. So, we are working ahead of schedule,” continues Steven.
'Favori has been chosen as the Netherlands’ tastiest strawberry several times already’
Flevo Berry mainly breeds strawberries in greenhouses. “That is no longer an exception with strawberry breeders, but we were the first to do so. We still do tests in full soil because many growers who use our varieties in Germany and Scandinavia also farm in this way. We have, however, noticed a shift in growing techniques. For example, full-soil strawberry cultivation is increasingly making way for sheltered and greenhouse cultivation."
"In one country, developments are more rapid than in another," adds the Commercial Director. "For instance, in the United Kingdom, almost no-one does full soil cultivation anymore, and it is quickly declining in the Netherlands too. In Germany, there is still quite a lot of full soil farming, but growers there are rapidly switching to protected cultivation. Protected cultivation is a smaller, cheaper step toward greenhouse cultivation."
‘New, Dutch full soil strawberries’ - many salesmen try to convince clients to buy strawberries with this kind of slogan. “People still feel any given season’s strawberries are the tastiest. And, for example, in Germany, the start of the strawberry season is not yet as important as the start of the asparagus season. That is certainly reflected in strawberry sales."
"These still usually always peak in the spring and summer months. Yet, we see people are increasingly open to out-of-season strawberries, such as in the winter. The demand is now still low, but we notice it increasing every year. Just like with tomatoes. These were also always a seasonal product, and now, people do not know any different anymore.”
If we, however, consider tomatoes, thoughts quickly move to tasteless tomatoes, when they are not in the correct season. “There was certainly a time when Germans, for instance, were talking about the Wasserbombe,” laughs Steven. “Fortunately, that time has passed for tomatoes. There are also many different varieties on the market, like cherry and snack tomatoes, and different colored tomatoes. It is just to illustrate how we hope to envisage the strawberry’s future. The strawberry market is now very monotonous. That can change.”
Flevo Berry is, however, skipping the tasteless period. “We have three important priorities. Flavor, year-round cultivation, and sustainability. How a strawberry tastes is crucial. We then also speak of the First Moment Of Truth (FMOT) and the Second Moment Of Truth (SMOT). Growers have always urged us to take this into account. Especially those in Germany and Scandinavia, where there is a lot of direct sales to consumers.
"Strawberries sell first because of their color, aroma, and appearance - FMOT. People, however, only return for more, if the strawberry also tastes good - SMOT. We have always taken this strongly into account, and we value the product’s taste highly. It is then no wonder that ‘the tastiest Dutch strawberries’ - the Favori - is part of our assortment,” explains Steven.
When it comes to year-round cultivation, that is already possible with Flevo Berry’s strawberry varieties. “Combined with the correct cultivation techniques, we can achieve that, both with everbearing and June-bearing kinds. Everbearing varieties are usually harvested between May and October, but you can also plant them in August, and then you have winter production. The same is true for those that bear fruit in June. These strawberries are usually, as the name suggests, harvest for six weeks in June, but, thanks to breeding, we can plant these in winter too."
Breeding is a true art
"These June-bearing varieties have higher yields in a short time than the everbearing strawberries. Our goal is to develop varieties for the market that need minimal external effort to make them grow optimally. For winter breeding, we, therefore, traveled the world looking for a cultivation program that specializes in winter strawberries," Oosterloo says. "In 2015, we eventually found this in South Korea, in the Damhyang-Gun province’s strawberry growers breeding program. This allowed us to exchange genetic material between the countries.”
According to Steven, year-round production helps strawberry growers. “Year-round farming has various benefits. For instance, since growers can remain on the market throughout the year, once the season starts anew, they need not try to push imported strawberries from Spain, Morocco, and Egypt out of the market. We usually hand the market over to these countries in January. We can also better utilize the more than 500 hectares of strawberry greenhouses in the Netherlands."
Strawberry plants in Flevo Berry’s greenhouse
"Sales can be better distributed, too, which ensures improved returns for the farmers. To reduce cost prices, we also focus on breeding strawberries than need minimal input. In this way, we hope to be able to greatly reduce the use of pesticides by making our strawberry varieties more resistant or tolerant. For example, we have been able to tackle the root disease, Phytophthora, in strawberries successfully. Before, a grower would lose 10,000 to 15,000 plants out of 100,000. This risk is reduced thanks to more robust genes,” Steven goes on to say.
Year-round production, optimal use of Dutch greenhouses, and resistant strawberries all contribute to the sustainability of strawberry farming in the Netherlands. “We started with developments ten years ago already, since that is how much time is needed to breed a strawberry variety successfully. To achieve this, we can currently offer a nice range with our nice range of Flair, Sonsation, Faith, Florentina, and Favori varieties. There has also been a shift this year, where strawberry cultivation no longer rests with a single variety, namely the Elsanta. It is, therefore, great that we made the right choice.”
Part of the Flevo Berry team, with Steven Oosterloo on the far left
It was, however, impossible to predict the coronavirus outbreak, especially ten years ago. “It is currently casting a dark shadow above the entire strawberry cultivation sector, especially when it comes to harvesting, which is very labor-intensive, and on consumption. Unfortunately, the development of a strawberry picking robot - which is being fully pursued - is still in its infancy. A lot of strawberries need to be eaten this summer to support farmers,” concludes Steven. (TD)