A cold and often wet spring is not cheering anyone up. Soft-fruit crops are delayed, which will lead to problems later, and for apples and pears fruit-set is challenged as pollinators are deterred and the critical fertilisation process is impaired. A late season sometimes helps to avoid frost in orchards and vineyards, but this is of little comfort.
Food price inflation is showing little change, so consumers are not going to be concerned about farmers complaining about their predicament. However, BAPL is right to point out the disconnect between the prices that consumers are paying for apples and the return to growers. According to ONS data, the lowest consumer price of apples increased 17% between September 2021 and September 2022, but UK apple growers reported an increase of only 0.8% in what supermarkets pay them for their fruit. At the recent National Fruit Show AGM and conference, the point was often made that we must keep emphasising that we are producing healthy fresh food grown to high standards and point the finger at businesses that sell poor quality food.
It is good to see that the grower-owned and subsidised company Horticulture Crop Protection Ltd (HCP) has been able to start work with funding and crop protection specialist staff seamlessly transferred from AHDB. A lot of work has gone into setting up this body to ensure that UK growers have access to plant protection products after AHDB Horticulture had been wound down. The potential perils of the shrinking list of active ingredients for pest control are highlighted in an article for strawberry growers facing aphid problems.
Innovations in production systems are often reported, but now propagators are also using the latest technology. Dutch company Van der Avoird Trayplant has taken raspberry propagation to the next level with a state-of-the-art automated multi-level concept believed to be the first of its kind. The propagation system comprises 860 mobile cultivation tables, which move slowly and quietly below LEDs.
Growing Kent & Medway is making another round of funding (£900,000) available for innovative projects, processes, or technologies to support sustainable production, products, or packaging. Projects must relate to the horticultural and plant-based food and drink supply chain. Partnerships between businesses are encouraged, and collaborating companies can be based anywhere in the UK, but the lead applicant needs to be based in Kent or Medway.
The May issue also contains articles on,
- New National Fruit Show President
- New NIAB publication
- New LEAF CEO
- Raspberry plant propagation
- Aphid control in strawberries
- WineGB South East AGM
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