The Strawberry Journey

The Plants

The first stage of the Strawberry Journey at Castleton is when the plants arrive on the farm.  We buy our plants from Holland and they arrive frozen.

They are planted by hand either into coir bags which are on table tops or directly into the soil in beds.  As the plants are all under tunnels they receive all their food and nutrition through a fertigation system.

The flowers are initiated the previous autumn and when the weather is warm enough they come up through the crown of the plant and open.

Pollination of the plants

We buy in 200,00 bumble bees and 10,000 honey bees to pollinate:

  • 12.5 million strawberry flowers
  • 25 million blueberry flowers
  • 3 million raspberry flowers
  • 1 million cherry flowers

6 weeks later the open flower has transformed into a ripe and ready to pick strawberry.

The cool Scottish climate allows the fruit to ripen slowly which creates more sugars producing a delicious sweet berry.

Picking the strawberries

The strawberries are picked by hand and graded into first and second class.

The pickers take the fruit to the supervisor station where it is quality checked and weighed.

The fruit is then taken to the packhouse. All fruit undergoes QC at the intake of the packhouse.  We check the temperature, brix, mis-shapes, berry count, size and colour.

The fruit is then placed into the rapid chill tunnel which chills the berries from the air temperature to 5 oc in 1 hour. This process helps to extend the shelf life.

Packing and distribution

The fruit is then loaded onto the line in the intake fridge and the punnets pass along a pre-check weigher which determines if the weight is within the boundaries.

If the punnet is too light or too heavy it gets diverted to an operator who manually amend the weight by adding or taking out berries.

All fruit is packed to an average weight system. The punnets are then heat-sealed.

The film used is branded for each supermarket.

The punnets are then weighed again and any promotional flashes are applied. The punnets are then packed into their final crates ready to be despatched to the supermarket depots. The will arrive on the supermarket shelves within 24 – 48 hours of being picked.