Monthly Archives: July 2016

Increasing earwigs in orchard for IPM

A new research project by the Dutch fruit growers association (NFO) and Wageningen UR aims to investigate why some orchards have lots of the invertebrates while others have far fewer.

“Apple and pear farmers obviously want lots of earwigs in their orchards,” says Herman Helsen, entomologist and leader of the project. “They are extremely useful against problems such as the woolly apple aphid and pear psylla.”

The earwig is one of the few insects that provides parental care. In autumn the adult insects go into the soil to overwinter. In the early spring they build an underground nest where the female protects and cares for the eggs. Once the young have reached the third ‘nymph stage’, they head into the plants, where they feed on insects, fungi or algae.

However, Herman explains that it is not currently known what the youngest earwigs eat in the nest. DNA analysis of stomach contents will be used to answer this question.

Wageningen UR and the NFO recently received a grant from the Top Sector Horticulture and Starting Materials for a new research project. The main question is what is the difference between an orchard with few earwigs and one with many? If it proves to be the availability of food for young earwigs, it may be possible to stimulate the number of earwigs by improving the conditions in the orchard.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

The post Increasing earwigs in orchard for IPM appeared first on Hort News on 24 June 2016.

Lidl signs up to NFU fruit and veg pledge

Joining Aldi as one of only two major retailers yet to sign this pledge, Lidl have committed to treating all suppliers fairly, paying growers on time and reducing waste. Lidl have also agreed to increase the proportion of British seasonal fruit and vegetables available for their customers.

The NFU’s horticulture and potatoes board chairwoman, Ali Capper, said: “We‘re delighted that Lidl has publicly committed to our pledge, highlighting its commitment to long-term supply relationships, equitable distribution of reward along the supply chain and fair and respectful trading relationships.” Ryan McDonnell, commercial director at Lidl UK, commented: “We’re very proud to have developed and maintained strong, long-standing relationships with all our suppliers and our commitment to the NFU pledge cements this further.”

The post Lidl signs up to NFU fruit and veg pledge appeared first on Hort News on 24 June 2016.

HZPC members paid more than €3/kg for 2015 crop

Grower members of the Dutch potato breeder and seed producer co-operative HZPC Holland B.V. will receive a final confirmed price of €30.28 per 100 kg of seed produced during the 2015 harvest season.

The figure is 2.6 per cent higher than the provisional figure released at the end of March and is a significant increase on last year’s final price, although still more than €3 less than in 2013. The average yield last year was 42.9 tonnes per ha, higher than in previous seasons.

Gerard Backx, CEO of HZPC, explained, “Crop 2015 is characterized by the high yields. Compared to previous years, there were a lot of seed potatoes available. We are pleased to be able to announce that we sold a record quantity of these seed potatoes from the Dutch pool. The previous record sales volume was for Crop 2010, but current year’s volume of seed potatoes sold from the pool is 3% higher. Crop 2010 was somewhat comparable to the current season, with high yields per hectares and a favourable market. But for Crop 2015 the international market was certainly less willing than in 2010.

“Last year the European market for seed potatoes was very limited because of the low prices for ware potatoes. This season the European market has recovered to a demand of a regular size.”

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

The post HZPC members paid more than €3/kg for 2015 crop appeared first on Hort News on 23 June 2016.

Tesco agrees sale of Dobbies

As part of its continued refocusing on core activities, Tesco has sold its Dobbies Garden Centres business to an investor group led by Midlothian Capital Partners and Hattington Capital.

The sale represents the entire share capital of Dobbies Garden Centres Ltd. Tesco will receive £217 million in cash for the entire share capital of Dobbies Garden Centres Ltd, which will be used for general corporate purposes.

Tesco bought Dobbies Garden Centres in 2007, and since then it has grown to become the UK’s second largest specialist garden centre retailer, operating 35 garden centres across Scotland, England and Northern Ireland. Tesco Chief Executive Dave Lewis commented, “Through their hard work and dedication to customer service, Dobbies colleagues have built a great business, and I would like to thank them for everything they have done. It was a difficult decision to sell the business, but we believe this agreement will give Dobbies a bright future, while allowing our UK retail business to focus on its core strengths.”

Andrew Bracey and Barney Burgess, of Midlothian Capital Partners and Hattington Capital respectively, added, “[Dobbies] is a great business with fantastic colleagues. We’re very optimistic about the potential of the business, and we look forward to growing the business across the UK from its base in Scotland.”

Photo Credit: Tesco

The post Tesco agrees sale of Dobbies appeared first on Hort News on 23 June 2016.

Tesco adds cucumbers to imperfect veg range

Tesco has said that it will add new lines, including cucumbers and courgettes to its Perfectly Imperfect range of ‘wonky’ fruit and vegetables.

The cucumbers are priced at 35p per 100g and will form part of the Perfectly Imperfect range, which already includes parsnips, potatoes and strawberries. Sales of the range have grown tenfold since it was launched, with apples and parsnips showing particular growth.

Matt Simister, Commercial Director for Fresh Food and Commodities at Tesco commented, “Providing great quality produce at low prices is clearly something our customers find really helpful, and we’re expecting our new Perfectly Imperfect cucumbers to prove just as popular as the rest of the range. We want to do everything we can to cut food waste, and we’ll continue to do more to help our suppliers and customers reduce the amount of food that is wasted from farm to fork.”

Photo Credit: Tesco

The post Tesco adds cucumbers to imperfect veg range appeared first on Hort News on 22 June 2016.

Thanet Earth criticised for light pollution

In a new series of satellite maps, the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), have criticised protected vegetable grower Thanet Earth as the second worst light polluter in the country, second only to Tata Steel in Rotherham.

CPRE said in a statement, “Thanet Earth pledged to improve its greenhouse blinds in 2013, yet the light emitted is still severe. Its maximum brightness value is 84.98 nanowatts/cm2*sr, brighter than anywhere else in the South East, including London.”

However, the company defended its use of lighting and published a detailed explanation of the screens it uses on its website. “To achieve an economically-sustainable yield in the winter months then we have to supplement the natural light that the plants receive. Both of the tomato glasshouses at Thanet Earth are equipped with growlights which provide the plants with a light intensity that replicates the light levels of a typical spring day,” it explained. “In total, our two operational lit greenhouses have some 20,000 lights at work. Each is around 1000W. These lights are usually switched on by around midnight, and will stay on until the afternoon.”

Thanet Earth also pointed out that growlights are not used between April and September, depending on light levels, and that there are few dwellings in the immediate vicinity of the site. “By leaving the lights off until 11pm at the earliest, we aim to minimise any impact of the lights on our neighbours.”

Photo Caption: The growlights at Thanet Earth stay on until the afternoon

The post Thanet Earth criticised for light pollution appeared first on Hort News.

Farmer confidence at all time low says survey

The agricultural barometer survey by Copa & Cogeca reveals that a perfect storm of factors including a collapse in prices, soaring input costs and the Russian export ban means that confidence in Europe’s farmers reached an all-time low in the first quarter of 2016.

The survey is carried out twice a year in 11 countries and over 8,000 farmers were interviewed. In 9 of the 11 Member States, including the UK, farmers’ confidence about the current and future situation had fallen. Concerns about implementation of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and red tape also caused many difficulties for farmers and growers. Only Denmark and Sweden were more optimistic about the current and future situation.

Copa & Cogeca Secretary-General Pekka Pesonen said, “Our agricultural barometer confirms that European farmers are really feeling the pressure. They are being squeezed by low farm gate prices and high input costs. I consequently urge the EU Commission and EU Farm Ministers to take action when they meet at the end of June. Additional support is crucial and new markets for our quality produce must be found.”

Photo Caption: Pekka Pesonen

Photo Credit: Copa & Cogeca

The post Farmer confidence at all time low says survey appeared first on Hort News on 21 June 2017.

Branston begins factory extension

Leading potato supplier Branston has begun work on a new £5 million factory extension to handle potatoes for the convenience sector at its main site near Lincoln.

According to the company the 1,700 sq. ft extension, which is being built by Charcroft Construction, will peel and prepare potatoes which do not meet Class I specification before sale to convenience food producers for use in a range of products such as prepared mash and ready meals. As well as reducing waste by utilising crops which to not meet pre-packing specifications, the facility will create 20 new jobs.

Branston technical director Mark Willcox told reporters, “We’ll be adding value to potatoes that don’t make it into a pack as a class I product, which is a great way to reduce food waste – a real win for both farmers and consumers.

“We supply prepared vegetables to the UK’s top retailers and this extension will go a long way to help us meet the growing demand we’re seeing in this area. We expect that this new business-to-business part our customer portfolio will continue to grow alongside the very successful chilled prepared vegetable lines that we currently sell to the country’s leading supermarkets.”

Photo Credit: Branston

The post Branston begins factory extension appeared first on Hort News on 17 June 2017.