It’s difficult to resist a perfectly ripe strawberry: these juicy, fragrant, dimpled red fruits are surely the star crop on many a spring farm. Yet growing them can be a daunting prospect early in one’s farming career. Where can the seeds be found? Are they really worth the high initial price tag? How many should be planted, and how should they be processed after harvest? These questions can easily confuse or confound the start-out farmer in her quest to harness the potential of this top-end, luxury crop. If you are one of those looking for guidance, please feel reassured that you’re not on your own. Way back in time, on my very first farm, I managed to plant a grand total of just two strawberry plants in my first year! Since then, year by year and farm by farm, I have built up my understanding of how to make the most of this uniquely valuable crop. Now I wish to pass on my hard-won wisdom, in the hope that other farmers will also grow to love this succulent heart-shaped fruit in the way it fully deserves. The main value of this fruit lies in its energy-efficiency as a crop. In your first spring, it is possible to get a return of 11.67 gold every day for each strawberry plant that you water – and that’s without any processing! Unless you’re lucky enough to find a coffee bean for free in the mines early on, there is no other crop that comes close to rivalling the strawberry on this measure. The nearest contender is the cauliflower, which brings in just 7.92 gold per day for each watered plant. If you can afford the seeds, it is quite possible to water a field of 120-180 strawberries each day throughout the second half of spring, using just your normal daily energy. This crop will generate upwards of 2500 gold per day, and you will more than double your initial investment before the end of spring (even if you sell the strawberries unprocessed). For the ambitious farmer, much larger strawberry fields can be maintained by consuming food. The pro tips section of this guide includes a strawberry-based strategy that will allow the farmer to reach farming level 10 by the end of their first spring, whilst generating a tidy profit and entering summer with a large amount of cash to spend on the farm. It is important to note, however, that strawberry seeds are not an efficient use of money if you only have limited funds to spend. They are also not a fast way to generate money or farming experience. The high seed cost, coupled with the long growing time to the first harvest, mean that investing all of your limited funds in just a few strawberry seeds is a trap that can severely slow down the progress of an unsuspecting farmer. To ensure success, you need to plan how to use your strawberry fields as part of a sustainable strategy across the whole season. The first step in this is building up sufficient funds to afford the seeds in the first place. Strawberry seeds can only be purchased at the Egg Festival, which takes place on 13th Spring. Enter town between 9am and 2pm and visit the brightly coloured festival shop located to the west of Harvey’s clinic. Each strawberry seed costs 100GP, which is a lot of money in your first spring. You need to make sure you enter the festival with as much ready cash as possible. The key to success here is timing your other activities correctly in the run-up to the festival: · Plan to harvest all your other crops by 12th Spring so you can sell these overnight and have maximum funds for strawberry seeds. · Sell any stored-up fish, gems or other profitable items overnight on 12th Spring. · If you plan to spend money that is still held in your quest log, you need to redeem that money before entering town, as the log pages will not be accessible during the festival. There are many possible ways to run the first two weeks of your farm so that you arrive at the festival with lots of money to spend on seeds. Probably the simplest schedule is: · Day 1: Plant and water the free 15 parsnips. · Days 2-4: Water parsnips, then fish. Even if you are not great at fishing, this will build up your XP (which makes the mini-game easier) and will generate money for seeds. · Day 5: Harvest parsnips, then mine. If rainy, plant potatoes instead of mining. · Day 6: Plant and water as many potatoes as you can afford. Forage. · Days 7-11: Water potatoes and mine or fish. · Day 12: Harvest potatoes and mine or fish. Although I have tried many variations on that basic schedule, including planting more crops early on, planting extra parsnips on day 8, or planting no potatoes at all and relying on fishing for seed money, the schedule above is the one I come back to over and over as the most efficient. The choice between mining and fishing each day depends on the weather, personal preference and goals outside of farming. Note that I haven’t detailed trees chopped for wood, items crafted, acorns planted, tool upgrades or buildings commissioned from Robin. Those are outside the scope of this guide. However, it is worth noting that any money spent on buildings or tool upgrades before the egg festival will significantly reduce the number of strawberry seeds you will be able to afford. The truly dedicated strawberry farmer might even hold off from buying a backpack upgrade until after the 13th. To get in two harvests of strawberries before the end of the growing season, you need to plant and water all your strawberry seeds by Tuesday 16th Spring. It is generally better to get the seeds planted as soon as possible, since the money and farming XP from your first strawberry harvest will be very useful when they come. However, depending on your priorities, it is possible to spread the planting of a large strawberry field out over several days, starting on the evening of the egg festival and adding a little each day, leaving time and energy for other activities. It makes sense to plant as much as you can on the evening of 13th Spring, since your farm will be full of empty tilled spaces from the potato crop you harvested the day before. Some of these spaces will disappear each night if they are left empty. Don’t forget to apply basic fertiliser wherever you can – a gold-starred strawberry is much better than a basic-quality version, given you are likely to be selling most of your crop for cash. You may decide to hoe, fertilise or water extra spaces on the morning of 13th before going to the Egg Festival – just make sure to reach the town square by 2pm. If you have access to any speed-gro, you can get three harvests of strawberries by using this, planting and watering on 13th. (See the pro tips below for how to make sure you do have speed-gro to use in this way). Watering even a very large strawberry crop allows time for other activities in your day; you should have plenty of time to mine, fish, forage, or even interact with the townsfolk. Depending when you planted, you may also be able to skip a couple of days of watering with no ill effects. The key consideration here is to make sure you water your strawberries often enough to get two harvests before the end of spring. The first harvest will come after 8 days of watering. The second harvest takes 4 more applications of your watering can. This is easiest to visualise graphically, so I recommend looking at the Stardew Valley Wiki page to see when your strawberries will fruit. If you plant any strawberries as late as Tuesday 16th Spring, make sure to water them every day or they will not give you two harvests. Also, if you planted any speed-gro strawberries on the evening of 13th, you need to make sure that you water these every day in order to get three harvests from those plants. Your first harvest of strawberries will significantly increase your farming level, so it is best to aim for this as soon as possible. After this harvest, watering energy costs will be significantly reduced. Depending on the size of your field, you may need to eat food in order to keep up your daily watering schedule. You are likely to be at farming level 3-5 when you plant your field. Each increase in farming level will decrease the energy cost of your watering. At skill level 3 you will be able to water 158 plots each day without eating food. At skill level 5 this increases to 180 plots. If, when you are stood at the Egg Festival stall, you have the money for more seeds than you can water each day, you could consider holding back some funds to buy salads from the tavern. Alternatively, you could invest all your money in seeds and plan to fish for food (smallmouth bass or chub are best to eat). You might consider upgrading your watering can if you know that the next day will be rainy, or if you have leeway in getting two harvests from all your strawberries before the end of the season. A copper watering can will allow you to water a higher number of crops for the same energy expenditure. Personally, I don’t bother with upgrading my watering can. Instead, I plant all my spring crops in squares that leave spaces for quality sprinklers, and I fill these sprinklers in as soon as possible within the season. Crafting quality sprinklers is possible once you reach farming level 6. Whilst it takes a power-gaming strategy to get to that milestone in time for the Egg Festival, it is actually quite easy to reach that point by the end of your first strawberry harvest. You can then fill in sprinklers to reduce the time and energy spent on watering for the rest of the season. In Spring Year 1, most farmers want more money. Money can be invested and multiplied. It therefore makes sense to sell most or all of the silver-starred and gold-starred strawberries that your farm produces. This will give you immediate cash to invest in other things. You could hold back a couple of gold-starred items to use as birthday presents for Maru and Demetrius; they both absolutely love strawberries. The rest of your strawberries will benefit from processing, but only if you can get that up and running early enough. Kegging your strawberries brings the best profit. However, there is only limited number of fruits that you will be able to keg before, mid-summer, you have hops coming out of your ears. Hops give a better and quicker return in a keg, so you will need to put your strawberry-wine farm on hold in mid-summer and focus on making pale ale. Maybe it would have been better to sell them for cash earlier on… Some people choose to hold back strawberries to run through a seed-maker, allowing them to be planted on the first day of spring in year 2. You should consider doing this if you don’t have immediate need of funds, and are happy for your farm to grow slowly and steadily. Don’t put them in the fridge. Strawberries are not used in any recipes – mixing them with other ingredients is just an adulteration of their sweet, juicy goodness. It is possible to use the basic strategy above to reach farming level 6 before the Egg Festival, and farming level 10 by the end of spring. Extra things to think about if you are going all out like this: · If you plant 13 parsnips, 1 cauliflower and 1 green bean on day 1, you can complete the community centre spring crops bundle on the evening of the egg festival, getting you 20 speed-gro and therefore an extra strawberry harvest on 20 plants. · You can also manufacture your own speed-gro in time if you get tappers on some pine trees by the evening of Sunday 7th. This needs you to reach foraging level 3 the day before, so will involve cutting quite a lot of trees. You will also need clams from the beach. · If you are good at fishing, consider trying to get the fibreglass rod on day 2. It is possible to do this as well as planting the 13 parsnip, 1 cauli and 1 green bean. Not for the casual player, though! · Rice shoots turn up quite often in fishing treasure chests. You can plant a total of 13 seeds on 5th without risk of crows eating your crops. I tend to plant rice shoots then fill up any spare slots with mixed seeds. Well, there you have it, farmer – the sum total of my hard-won strawberry-farming knowledge. I hope you have found it helpful! I would love to hear all about any strawberry farms that you try out using the tips above.