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Home BUSINESSStrawberry harvest begins
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Thu, 16 Jul, 2015 12:06:46 AM
FTimes – STT Report, July 16
 
Strawberry picking in Suonenjoki on Wednesday, July 15, 2015. Photo – Str / Lehtikuva.
Strawberry main harvest is ready in almost every part of the country except in Oulu-Kajaani latitude where harvesting in expected to begin towards the end of the week.
 
It is better for pickers to wait for strawberries than the other way round, according to Vesa Soirio who runs a 17 hectare strawberry field on a hill in an area where the average field is five hectares.
 
A region in Suonenjoki has around 3,000 pickers mainly from Ukraine. In the past, strawberry pickers came from Estonia, but the new generation is not interested in the tough work.
 
Katrin Kits from Tallinn has had six seasons at Soirio's fields but now act as the berry pickers' boss.
 
"Finns have not been interested in picking for many years, and now the same phenomenon is repeated on the Estonians. They go back after a few days, whereas Ukrainians work diligently throughout the year," said Kits.
 
One of the Ukrainian pickers is Tanja Syroizhko from Chernihiv in Northern Ukraine. Chernihiv is now in her third season as a strawberry picker.
 
"Here I earn in a month what an English teacher would earn in a year. The normal working day is seven-and-a-half hours," Syroizhko revealed.
 
Photo – Str / Lehtikuva.
According to the strawberry farm owner estimation, about 50 euros daily income on the fields is equivalent to a month's salary in Ukraine.
 
This year, the tax authorities have their foothold on the fields. The Ukranians' progressive tax cards have been gathered from the fields so that they would not need to pay 35
percent withholding tax. 
 
According to Soirio, the maturation of the crop is more stable and the berries are sweet and robust due to the chilly air.
 
"The weather can fool that it is not the actual strawberry-time. In fact now would be the right time to refrigerate when the quality and price are right," Soirio said.
 
Strawberry farmer. Photo Str/Lehtikuva.
The average market price for half a kilo package of strawberry is five euros, but a box of five kilos goes for thirty euros.
 
Soirio does not believe the price will fall, but rather the other way round due to waning supply in the South. According to Soirio, the harvest season for the later varieties will continue into the autumn.
 
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