The Definitive Guide to Strawberry Picking in Scandinavia
Ever wondered why Scandinavia is so famous for its strawberries and other forest berries? Hard to imagine that a region with low average temperatures throughout the year would be such a massive producer of these environmentally sensitive fruits. Let’s face it, when you hear the words “strawberry farm” you’re probably thinking Spain, Italy or Greece.
It turns out that Scandinavian weather is a major contributor to the quality of strawberries from this region. It is the long, bright summer days followed by cool nights that make the berries so sweet and flavorful. This is the reason why it is not uncommon for strawberries to be farmed even above the Arctic Circle.
Strawberries are a rich source of vitamin C, fiber, antioxidants, folate and iron, which is why, during their season, most people buy more than can eat and freeze them to be kept for the rest of the year too.
Fresh, they are best served with a little bit of sugar or cream. If you don’t want to freeze them and just want to keep them for a couple of days, they preserve best unwashed in the fridge.
Types of Strawberries
Time to learn a bit about the different types of Scandinavian strawberries. Below is a short description of the 6 most popular types of strawberries and their unique features:
Honeoye – very sweet and lots of flavor. Taste includes hints of lime, black cherry and wild strawberry.
Sonata – they are light red and juicy and hints of taste include red apples, citrus and spring greenery.
Flair – deep taste and elegantly fresh. Hints of taste: champagne, spring greenery and compost.
Florence – dark red large berries with fine taste.
Salsa – delicious berries with taste of their own garden. Flavours include apricot, soil and ripe cherry.
Rumba – probably the most popular strawberries, they are heart-shaped and vivid red. Sweet taste with hints of honey.
Best Season Strawberry Picking:
June to October is generally the fruit picking season across Scandinavia with Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland being the top destinations for hundreds of foreign workers coming to pick fruit and predominantly strawberries.
Below is our definitive guide to strawberry picking containing everything you have to know about strawberry picking in Scandinavia.
Strawberries are a big part of the summer culture in Sweden being a traditional desert at Midsummer Eve, 23rd June. Annually, Sweden produces a harvest of around 15 million kilos of strawberries which are sold in supermarkets, directly from strawberry farms and even on the side of the road. They are ripe first in the southern part of Sweden at the end of May and most of them come from the Skåne region.
There are numerous strawberry farms across Sweden who are looking for workers every summer. Whilst some pay workers per kilogram of fruits picked, others have contracts with supermarkets and factories so can secure a consistent pay rate throughout the entire season.
Nevertheless, the monthly minimum wage should be around of 17,000 kronor.
Visas and Work Permits
For visa and work permit information, visit our work permit regulations for fruit pickers in Sweden section.
The Best Strawberry and Fruit Picking Farms in Sweden
These are found:
- in the southern part of Sweden in the districts of Scania, Blekinge, and Kalmar.
- around the big lakes of Vänern and Vättern
- smaller farms are located along the coast of the Gulf of Bothnia and close to the river valleys.
Important to remember! A detail often overlooked.
According to the Swedish law, any person is allowed to roam any forest, meadow or field to pick berries, mushrooms or flowers for own use as long as no trees or bushes are cut down and no branches are broken. The owner of the land has no right to stop you or demand compensation for what you have picked as long as the above requirements are met. You must also not cultivate any plants, harm any animals and may not enter grounds too close to homes or fenced enclosures.
They say you’ve never been to Norway if you haven’t tasted Norwegian strawberries. Similarly to Sweden, the strawberries hold a special place in the Norwegian people’s hearts. They are sold everywhere from supermarkets to the side of the road and many people buy large quantities to freeze over the winter or make jams and compotes.
There are around 15 different types of strawberries in Norway with the most commonly grown ones being Korona and Senga Sengana and here is how they look:
Senga Sengana strawberries:
Berry season in Norway begins in late June with strawberries and ends towards the middle of October with blackcurrants.
The most valued berry in Norway is the cloudberry because it only grows in countries of the northern hemisphere such as Scandinavia, Canada and Russia. If found in the southern hemisphere like in northern Germany, it is a protected species and the picking of the fruit is not allowed.
Vacancies for fruit and strawberry picking workers in Norway are open every year and although workers are required to speak English, a basic understanding of the Norwegian is preferred.
The minimum hourly rate in Norway is 105 NOK for jobs in agriculture and if employment is ensured for the long term, rates usually go up to 120 NOK. Strawberry pickers can also be paid in piecework but this must nevertheless be equal to the minimum hourly wage for the number of worked hours.
Visas and Work Permits
For visa and work permit information, visit our work permit regulations for fruit pickers in Norway section.
Best Strawberry Farms in Norway
Best farms in Norway are found in the region called The Orchard of Norway. This is The Hardanger (Hardangerfjord) area which is famous for its fruit production from apples to cherries, raspberries and strawberries.
In addition to this, the majority of the southern half of Norway is populated with numerous strawberry farms scattered across the region.
When it comes to forest berries, a multitude of berries can be found in Norway. Visit our illustrated guide to Scandinavian berries.
There are 37 varieties of edible berries growing in Finland some of which are hardly found even in its neighboring countries. Due to their demanding growing conditions, Finnish berries must develop more wholesome compounds than berries grown in more southern areas of Europe, making Finnish berries healthier than most other berries. In order of importance, these are: lingonberry, bilberry, cloudberry, raspberry, buckthorn berry, arctic bramble, cranberry, bog whortleberry, mountain crowberry, rowan berry.
Picking berries in Finland is therefore not only a very common and much loved outdoor activity but a common summer job too.
Visas and Work Permits
For visa and work permit information, visit our work permit regulations for fruit pickers in Finland section.
Best Strawberry Farms in Finland
The best known strawberry farms are in the central-southern region of Finland and every year around 2,000 foreign workers arrive in Finland for summer seasonal work. The largest group of workers who come to Finland during the summer are from Russia and Ukraine, however, lately an increase in visitors from southern Europe (Italy, Greece and Spain particularly) has also been recorded.
Salaries in Finland for strawberry pickers are set by the recommendations of the Fruit and Berry Growers Union of Finland and are as follows:
2,85€ / 3kg strawberry basket which depending on your speed could amount to between €1,000 and €2,000 per month.
Important to remember!
Applications for strawberry picking during the summer in Finland should generally be submitted early in January-February.
Most Finnish farms will offer accommodation with complete facilities but rent must be paid to the employer. Alternatively, accommodation can be arranged individually and the employer may offer to help.
Transport to and between the fruit plantations will be provided by the employer.
Fruit picking in Denmark is just as popular as in Norway and Sweden. The most popular fruit and vegetables you can pick in Denmark are: strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, peas, onions and pumpkins.
There is no legally stipulated minimum salary in Denmark. However, workers in Denmark are members of a trade union which means that you will receive a fair salary. Failing to register and become a member of a trade union may result in you being cheated over financial remuneration and thus being underpaid.
You can apply to become a member by visiting the Trade Union website.
It is a general practice in Denmark for fruit pickers to be paid on piecework, approximately 1 Euro per kilogram which amounts to about 10 – 15 Euros per hour depending on working speed.
Working hours for fruit picking in Denmark change throughout the season. At the beginning of the season only a few hours per day might be required whilst in the high season you may have to work even 10 hours a day.
Visas and Work Permits
For visa and work permit information, visit our work permit regulations for fruit pickers in Denmark section.
Everyone staying in Denmark is entitled to free emergency healthcare.
Best Strawberry Farms in Denmark
Strawberry farms in Denmark are spread across the entire country but probably the most famous area for its strawberry production is the island of Samsø. During June and July the area is best knows for its delicious strawberries and during the late summer and early autumn months, Samsø produces some of the best new potatoes in the world. A few pounds of the first harvest of these new potatoes can fetch as much as £100 and are considered a great delicacy.
Working Periods for Fruit Picking in Denmark
- May to August for strawberries
- May to August for peas
- May to October for onions and pumpkins
- April to November for strawberries and raspberries in glasshouses
Fruit pickers in Denmark often have to pay for accommodation which can be independently found or through your employer. Alternatively people can bring tents and set up camp close or even on the employer’s farm land. The employer on the other hand must supply cooking, bathing and toilet facilities.
Recommended Equipment for Berry Picking Across Scandinavia:
No special equipment is needed for this job, however, it is recommended you wear the following for your own comfort:
- sturdy boots or comfortable shoes
- mosquito spray if you are heading for the forests
- plastic containers
- a pair of gloves for the cooler days
- a sun hat and sunscreen for the hotter days
- rubber boots for the rainy days
Strawberry Picking Recommended Positions:
It is important the employer provides training for the workers and stresses the importance of the working positions. Picking berries and strawberries is not an easy job and requires a lot of physical effort. It is therefore essential positions are changed frequently in order to avoid strain injuries.
Crouching for a long time could result in paralysis of the calf nerve and should this occur, please visit a doctor as soon as possible.
Recommended positions are:
- sitting with one knee on the ground
The picking technique has a direct impact on the quality of the fruit. Strawberries must be handled gently and not squeezed. When picking it, the hull and a recommended 15 mm long part of the stem should be left on the berry as this will help the berry last longer. The stem and hull also prevent the fruits from being packed too tightly in the punet.
Picking without the hull is also slower.
- grab the stem, not the berry
- break the stem just above the berry
- place the berries carefully in the containers. If the bottom of the container gets covered in strawberry juice, you are squeezing the berries
- remove mouldy and bad berries too and leave them on the ride of the road or put them in separate containers. Removal of these important in order to stop the disease from spreading to the other berries too.
Over the last 30 years numerous attempts have been made to try and automate strawberry picking. However, automatic picking still presents many disadvantages:
- berries too close to the ground are damaged while the machines are cutting the shoots;
- machines cannot separate good berries from the bad, mouldy, dirty or raw ones;
- automatic picking is difficult on un-even ground;
Finding the Right Job
For the latest fruit and strawberry picking jobs with available spaces, visit our vacancies.
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