A World of Carrots in One Room

More than 550 people from around the world applied to attend Bejo’s Carrot Symposium in September 2017. In fact, so many people were interested in the event which had the theme of Taste, Health & Innovation that we had to split the event into two groups, with delegates from Eastern Europe and Asia attending on the first day, and those from the rest of the world (principally Western Europe, the Americas and Australasia) taking part on the second day.

As you would expect, networking was also a key part of the day and the breaks were packed with people catching up with old acquaintances, making new contacts and discussing the presentations in more depth. Activities also spilled over the rest of Bejo’s annual Open Days, with carrot harvesting demonstrations and a carrot taste trial also being carried out on the Demo Fields, alongside demonstrations of the latest carrot varieties from our extensive global portfolio.


Carrots are one of the most important vegetable crops globally, with China producing the largest area (130,000 ha), followed by the United States (78,000 ha), Russia (25,000 ha) and Brazil (22,250 ha). As you would expect, with so many different types and varieties available, carrots are sold in a variety of different formats around the world. However, despite the diversity, Nantes types are the most popular representing 40% of total global production. Other types such as Imperator, Flakkee, Berlicum, Chantenay and Kuroda are particularly popular in different regions (such as Kuroda in Japan) or for different uses (such as Imperator and Berlicum types for processing.

Another reason for the diversity of carrot types and production methods is that they are almost unique in being a vegetable that can be used for every part of a meal, something that was demonstrated during the lunch break when carrot soup, carrot slaw and salad, and carrot cake were all available. With carrots also forming the basis of many juice drinks and or smoothies, they really are the most versatile food available.

Globally a third of all carrot production is exported, while for countries like the Netherlands, Israel and Denmark, up to half their total crop is sold abroad. Maintaining such markets require attention to detail at all stages of the growing and supply chain, beginning with seed quality and sowing the crop. “We don’t sell carrots, we sell reliability,” stressed Israeli Crop Consultant Amos Yeger, adding that most of the country’s exports are sold to Eastern Europe, and Russia in particular.


There is increasing interest in Imperator types in different regions around the world, but Canada and the United States of America are still the main market for this type of carrot. To cater for this market Bejo is working on a dedicated Imperator breeding program, alongside its other carrot breeding, which is being led by US-based breeder carrot breeder Rob Maxwell. “We have got the shape and the eating quality, but I want to improve disease resistance, especially given the growth in organic production that we are seeing,” he said. The program has led to a number of new varieties, with a number of new varieties, including four ‘cut and peel’ types due to be released commercially over the next two years.


Dr Richard De Leth

While breeders like Rob and Bejo’s Carrot Breeding Manager Wim Zwaan are busy selecting the healthiest and best new varieties, it falls to experts in the Seed Pathology and Seed Technology departments of Bejo to ensure that the seed of these varieties which is supplied to growers around the world is both healthy, and of the highest quality, including any treatments which the grower may specify. Bejo’s Seed Pathology Research Lead, Bert Compaan, explained that a wide range of different tests are performed on every batch of seed from around the world before anything is sold. Bejo’s seed laboratories offer a range of treatments, including disinfection, coating and priming. The latest innovation is B-Mox seed treatment, a type of enhanced priming which improves germination, establishment, and ultimately crop quality, and carrots are one of the first crops in Bejo’s portfolio to benefit from the technology. “B-Mox goes further than basic priming,” explained Bert. “B-Mox is a form of enhanced priming in combination with an innovative seed coating which gives better uniformity and an improved pack out to the grown crop.”

In order for breeders and seed scientists to keep ahead of an ever-developing disease threat, it is important that plant pathologists share their latest findings. It was therefore extremely interesting to hear Dr Adrian Fox of Fera Science Ltd in the United Kingdom discussing the latest work on carrot viruses which his team has undertaken. He explained that until 2012 there had only been a number of limited studies in Europe, with most of the focus on the Carrot Motley Dwarf complex of viruses and Carrot Yellow Leaf virus.

More recently attention has turned to identifying the causes of internal browning of carrot roots which is caused by viruses and can lead to significant rejections of fresh and processed products. At the same time Carrot Necrotic Dieback Virus (which has been known as Parsnip Yellow Fleck Virus until very recently) has also become more economically important for growers. With some plants having multiple virus infections, “Trying to separate which viruses lead to which symptoms can be difficult,” Dr Fox stressed, pointing out that there is lots more work for pathologists to do in order to fully understand these complex diseases.


There are sound health reasons for including carrots in the diet, and Dutch Doctor and Nutritionist Dr Richard De Leth explained several of them. For example, carotenoids stimulate the immune system and can protect the body from the effects of sunlight and cardiovascular disease. As part of a high fibre diet carrots can also help to reduce the risk of diseases including type-2 diabetes, colon cancer and stroke.


To help promote consumption Bejo works closely with all parts of the supply chain explained Marketing & Communication Advisor Danielle Bruin. “We work with partners on various projects in the chain and our sales staff and breeders are in close contact with each other. We prefer to develop and introduce new products and concepts with our customers.” Some of these recent introductions, which are becoming more popular around the world in different markets, include coloured and snacking carrots, as well as a number of varieties suitable for Bejo’s Cool Carrot Candy concept. These are varieties such as Mokum, White Satin and Ibiza, which have their own consistent and characteristic sweet and aromatic flavour with a crunchy bite and eye-catching appearance.

Picture Credits: Bejo Zaden BV.

Read the original article here.

Morrisons’ veg boxes proving popular

Supermarket Morrisons has launched two new value veg boxes, one priced at £3 (although it was launched at a promotional price of just £1) and a larger one at £5. The smaller box is available online, with the larger one in stores.

Morrisons vegetable buyer Andy Todd said, “We’ve listened to our customers who told us they want even more affordable veg. They are a great way for our customers to buy British or eat seasonally or feed the family for the week.” The retailer says the £5 box contains enough vegetables to feed a family of four for four or five days. The seasonal products include items such as carrots, courgettes, onions, potatoes, cauliflower, with many lines being slightly misshapen or out of specification for other products. Produce is currently sourced from up to 60 British growers, but the retailer said that the new line would not be exclusively British in origin.

Photo Credit: Morrisons

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Still places on RPA/EA workshop on reservoir grants

The UK Irrigation Association has highlighted that there are still places on the next joint RPA and EA workshop on capital grants for irrigation reservoirs, which will be held in Hereford on October 18.

The Water Resource Management capital grants are worth up to 40 per cent of the cost towards construction of an irrigation reservoir and are available for arable and horticultural businesses.  The grants are designed to improve farm productivity through more efficient use of water for irrigation, and to secure water supplies for crop irrigation by constructing on-farm reservoirs and related systems, and the deadline for new grant applications is 3 April 2018.

The workshop will explain the grants and how to apply, covering the level of grant available, project eligibility and issues around abstraction licence application. To book, or for more information, please email CPEnquiries@rpa.gsi.gov.uk. The timing and venue details will be provided upon booking. More details can be found in the handbook available here.

Photo Credit: gov.uk

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Buxton wholesaler given grant to expand

Family owned fresh produce wholesaler Tomson (Buxton) Ltd has been awarded a grant of £16,724 of Peak LEADER Rural Grant funding in order to expand one of its warehouses.

The firm was established 30 years ago when former PE teacher Deb Thompson and her husband opened a small grocery shop. Today the company employs 31 staff across three warehouses and buys food from growers across the UK, which is supplied to schools, business, hotels and restaurants in the Peak District and further afield.

Ms Thompson said, “We’ve wanted to extend one of our warehouses for a while but it’s a big project that would cost a lot of money so I’m really pleased we heard about these grants to help us. Within the extension is a second loading bay so we can send and receive deliveries at the same time and we have more space to move stock around. We’ve also been able to take on two new members of staff as a result and we’re looking to employ one more.”

Photo Credit: Tomson (Buxton) Ltd

The post Buxton wholesaler given grant to expand appeared first on Hort News on 5 Oct. 2017.

Construction begins on new Berry Gardens packhouse

Construction has begun on Berry Gardens’ new £18 million packing facility at Linton, near Maidstone in Kent.

Mayor of Maidstone Cllr Malcolm Greer dug the first ceremonial turf on Friday 29 September, marking the start of a two year construction process, with the scheme being developed by farming and haulage company Alan Firmin Ltd.

Michael Firmin, Managing Director of Alan Firmin, said, “We are delighted to be commencing work on this purpose built, high quality facility. We and Berry Gardens have a long track record of working together, and we are very pleased to be able to assist again with their expansion plans for the future.”

Nick Allen, Berry Garden’s Chief Operating Officer, added: “Today marks an exciting development in Berry Gardens’ history. The construction of the new head office and packing facility will ensure we continue to meet the challenges of our thriving market and create sustainable local employment.”

The 14,000 sq ft complex will include offices and 12 loading bays, as well as featuring solar panels and ecological areas. It is expected to safeguard 434 existing jobs and create up to 500 new ones. Cllr Greer commented, “This is an important investment for Maidstone and sends a positive, confident message about the prospects for the area’s fruit industry. It’s a privilege to get work started.”

Photo Caption: Artist’s impression of the new packhouse

Photo Credit: Berry Gardens Ltd

The post Construction begins on new Berry Gardens packhouse appeared first on Hort News on 5 Oct 2017.

New training course on minimising pesticide residues

Ian Finlayson, CEO of Practical Solutions International Ltd, is to run a new course for horticultural training provider ARTIS on managing pesticide residues in fresh produce.

Ian, who has extensive technical experience in the industry, served as a member of the government’s advisory Pesticide Residue Committee for seven years. The next course will be run in Cambridge in November, and will cover topics such as the principles of pesticide residue testing, designing a residue testing programme, and sampling for laboratory analysis. As well as covering UK and EU legislation, the course also looks at areas such as risk assessment, best practice and managing ‘restricted lists’.

John Owles, Sainsbury’s Technical Manager for East Africa, who attended a previous course, said, “The course was very relevant to the ever-changing requirements in the industry, and provided an excellent up-date as well as a refresher of the requirements needed for Maximum Residue Levels in a very understandable way.”

More details can be found here.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons

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Understanding energy storage for UK growers

As the UK’s electricity grid becomes more complicated, with increased amounts of embedded renewable energy generation, managing it to maintain the balance between electricity supply and demand becomes increasingly complex. In order to do this, new technologies such as battery storage are being developed, but can growers utilise them to save money or generate extra income?

That was one of the main questions posed by a recent GrowSave event held at Kenilworth ahead of the 2017 Tomato Growers Association Conference. Tim Pratt of FEC Energy gave a comprehensive overview of the various mechanisms used to supply and balance the grid, together with the potential incomes and challenges associated with each, while Jon Swain looked at the particular issues associated with battery storage for short-term frequency balancing. For growers with access to a grid connection, hosting one of these facilities may be attractive, but the economics are marginal at best and it is important that any growers considering this look carefully at the costs and contract details.

Oli Coe explained that heat storage is more likely to be of immediate benefit to greenhouse growers. Heat storage systems based around water tanks are frequently included as part of greenhouse heating systems, particularly where biomass boilers or CO2 generation is involved, where they allow optimal boiler efficiency. However, FEC Energy has found that many systems operate below optimum efficiency, and that simple steps can be taken to improve this.

With additional presentations from Priva and Certhon, the GrowSave Energy Storage workshop provided growers with plenty of food for thought, as well as some take-home practical messages to ensure the efficiency of their own heating systems.

Image credit: GrowSave.

Read the original article at GrowSave.

Bejo Oped Days are a ‘must attend’ event

Once again the world’s vegetable industry descended on the small Dutch town of Warmenhuizen for Bejo’s annual Open Days, held between the 26th and 30th September. The must sees: our True Potato seed variety Oliver F1, B-Mox, our bee program, carrot experts from all over the world presenting at our Carrot Symposium and a glimpse into the future of Bejo! In 2017 more people than ever visited from around the world, with guests coming from across Asia, the Americas, Africa, Australasia and of course Europe….

My full article, written for Bejo Zaden can be found here.