Since its introduction Falco receives excellent reviews by growers. Falco produces large, firm and intense red strawberries which are suitable for direct sales as well as retail chains. The main challenge they indicate is growing a plant that has a sufficient amount of trusses. With sufficient trusses Falco brings a lot of value to the grower: an easy to pick high yield.
Bart Antonissen, a Belgium grower, was one of the first growers who moved entirely from Elsanta to Falco. He believes Falco is a variety that enables growers to continue with open field and tunnel cultivation. “A variety like Elsanta does not have the quality, yield and picking speed which is needed when your season starts in April and ends in September. Especially last year we experienced that with the warm weather we had, Falco still delivers a good quality of excellent tasting strawberries.” He continues: “what we also experienced is that when you plan your crop well, you can work with a smaller labour force. The picking speed is high and you can pick the majority of strawberries in a brief period. After three weeks of picking, you move to the next part of the field with a later planting date. For our fields we use fresh plants and waiting bed plants. It took us about two years to really understand the variety and do our planning well, but looking at last season. I think we did a very good job this year.”
In Germany Falco also performed very well. Böckmann Erdbeeren, a well -known grower, who also has a lot of experience with the Flevo Berry varieties Flair and Faith, planted fresh plants of Falco beginning of August. The yield was excellent with almost 40 tons per hectare. And as Hanna Böckmann states “we are very positive about the variety. The combination of good taste, fruit firmness and size of the strawberry stands out. Also, picking performance was good and we experienced no noticeable diseases.”
Last year Flevo Berry held a large scale trial to learn more about propagating and cultivating Falco plants. At Verpaalen Soft Fruit we cultivated Falco and Sonsation (as a reference) in mini-trays and trays, with and without Osmocote, three different tipping dates and three different fertilisation schemes.
This resulted in 72 different lots of 3.600 plants each. From every lot we took a sample which we send to Plantalogica for a flower map. Based on the flower maps we selected 34 lots of Falco and 10 lots of Sonsation which were sent to Delphy ISFC for further research. Simultaneously but independently from our own research, a similar trial was done by Proefcentrum Hoogstraten.
From the trials we learned that flower initiation of Falco was very different compared to Sonsation. In short, Falco had a slow start but later catched up completely. In other words, we advice to keep Falco on the tray field as long as possible allowing it to continue flower initiation. You can follow the same advice if you are cultivating waiting bed plants. Of course you should take into account the chance of winter damage and not postpone packing too long.
Since Falco is already a quite easy growing and vegetative variety it does not need additional fertilisation (N) at the start. As soon as flower initiation starts you can increase the level of nitrogen. The best results were obtained with tray plants that were planted with Osmocote and a medium to heavy fertilisation scheme. For a summary of the results, please look at our memo on Falco cultivation (in Dutch). If you want to see the full results of the Delphy trial, please click here (in Dutch).
With the recent warm summers and also “green” winters we foresee a brilliant future for this robust variety. If you are interested in Falco. Plants are available at many of our propagation partners.