Anne Dimond asked:
I am currently living in Yaounde, Cameroon, Africa. Our temperature here is on average 70*F +/- 10*F. It never freezes here. We are at 2500ft. altitude with a fair amount of humidity. We are very close to the equator. We are wondering if this climate is suitable to growing strawberries and what varieties would do best here. We were thinking of starting with seeds but plants might be more helpful. We are definitely novices and could use direction in all areas. We have grown strawberries at home in the states, (Utah) but are unfamiliar with this area. We are missionaries here and are trying to introduce new things that they don’t have here. Maybe there is a reason they don’t grow strawberries here! Any information would be so appreciated. I will be returning to the states Feb. 27-March 7 so if there is anything there that I could pick up and bring back that would be awesome!
Thank you so much for your assistance with this. This could be quite an exciting adventure. And isn’t that what life is all about (besides the Hokey Pokey of course!).
Happily and Gratefully,
Answer to: Growing Strawberries in Cameroon Africa?
There are several difficulties when trying to grow strawberries in Africa. The primary one is usually heat. South Africa and other areas that are more temperate can grow them as long as soil conditions and water is adequate. I’m not familiar with the climate in Cameroon, but if the temperature tops out at 80 degrees Fahrenheit where you are, it should be possible to grow them. The second problem usually encountered in Africa is too much humidity/moisture. Strawberry plants are susceptible to a number of fungal infections that will set in readily if the soil stays waterlogged or humidity levels keep the air saturated with moisture constantly.
With that said, if your temperature range is only 80-60 degrees at your elevation, strawberries might do quite well if they don’t succumb to pathogenic infections from fungi or other indigenous mites/parasites.
Getting strawberries there might be a bit more problematic. It is usually easy to ship or carry strawberry seeds through customs. However, since strawberries are perennial, most of the selective breeding that has resulted in the varieties most common in the United States has focused on selecting specific traits manifested in trials (for more on that, see how a new strawberry variety is developed). What that means is that most of the varieties that we have today are highly selected and, consequently, hybridized. Seeds from hybridized strawberries will not grow true. Virtually all of the strawberries you buy in the store are grown commercially from such selected strains. These are usually propagated by clonal propagation or rhizomal division or tissue culture, NOT seeds. Since all of those forms of propagation involve living plant matter, customs officials generally get a bit more stringent about letting things of that sort pass across borders.
If you check with the customs officials of Cameroon before you leave, and they will let dormant strawberries come through when you re-enter the country, I’d recommend trying Chandler strawberries based on the climate data you provided. You can also try other Zone 9 strawberry cultivars. None of those will grow true from seed, however, and reputable sellers won’t even sell seeds labeled as such because of that fact. If you wish, you can research the specific varieties of seeds available for purchase here. Plants are more numerous and available here. Good luck!