Shizuoka Agricultural Products: The Yamaguchis’ Benihoppe Strawberry Fields (beginning of October)

Haruka/晴香, Tamako/玉子 and Mitsuo/光雄 Yamaguchi/山口

This the second part as promised of my interview of the Yamaguchi Family, a major grower of strawberries, exclusively of the Benihoppe variety, in Nirayama, Izu Peninsula. Read the first part for better understanding!

As mentioned before, “Benihoppe” or “Red Cheeks” strawberries is a cultivar which was successfully developed no later than in 2002 in Shizuoka Prefecture. It has since been voted as the best-balanced strawberry in Japan, and Izu Peninsula being near Tokyo, we do not see too many of our fruit on our own market stands!

To cut a long story short I was back at Mishima JR Station yesterday where Haruka Yamaguchi picked me up to give me a lift to her parents strawberry fields.

The Yamaguchis own a total of 15 greenhouses for a total of 1,500 tsubo (4,500 square meters), a fairly large property for a single family in this particular area counting for no less than 187 registered farms!
When you realize that their greenhouses stand in many different locations you can understand the sheer work of only opening and closing the roofs depending upon the weather, humidity and temperature every day! No need to say that when torrential rains fall upon them it becomes a real scramble!

The new strawberry seedlings were finally planted on the 15th of September. A couple of seedlings had been cut out and analyzed to ascertain that the flowers buds were forming.

Now, what is that box for?
A beehive will stand on it 5 days before the first strawberry flowers start blooming.
One just can’t pollinate the flowers without them!
Artificial pollination would be too cumbersome and will not be uniform with the consequence of misshaped fruits.
The Yamaguchis breed their own bees in 16 beehives, one for each greenhouse.
Don’t worry, they eat and share the honey!

Fruit size will depend on how well the flowers are pollinated.
Only the strict minimum of fertilizer will be dispensed until the soil is covered with vinyl sheets.
Weeds will have to be picked out by hand until then.
No pesticides will be used either.
Insects-eating insects will then be introduced!

The Yamaguchis will use large vinyl sheets to close the soil between the seedlings and rows. Instead of making holes in the sheets which tend to damage the seedlings, they join the sheets between the plants with staplers.
Now, do you see the blue tube running between the plants?

They are actually water hoses (or pipes, as you like)

The water springs out of the tube exactly between the plants.
That is, there will be enough space left between the vinyl sheets for the seedlings to be watered twice a week for 15 minutes.
Clever, isn’t it?

Maintaining the plants and picking the fruit is impossible work to do standing or kneeling.
The Yamaguchis and many other strawberry growers use that clever contraption to “run/roll” between the rows and work in relative ease!

Strawberry season lasts from about November 15th and 31st of May.
The best season are December and May as for sweetness. February see the largest fruits while the largest production occurs in March.

Look forward to my next report in December!

Yamaguchi Benihoppe Strawberry Farm
410-2114, Izu no Kuni, Nan-jo, 8
Tel.: 055-949-2330

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6 thoughts on “Shizuoka Agricultural Products: The Yamaguchis’ Benihoppe Strawberry Fields (beginning of October)”

  1. Thanks so much for all the information. I just bought these strawberries here in Hong Kong yesterday. They fly them in by air every few days. They are truly an amazing taste.
    Thanks for giving this information!


  2. A very nice and informative site about home-grown Japanese strawberries. I love our strawberries and was wondering if this new variety still has the distinctive taste or has this new cultivar changed all that?

    Please, if you have time, come to see my blog about Sendai-shi between 1953-1956.



  3. What a beautiful post! I’m so happy that I can now see what’s really going on at the other side of the globe right now. Thanks to you! I’m looking forward to the fruiting season soon. Thanks again and hope you’re enjoying your day.
    Blessings, Kristy


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