Category Archives: HortNews

Bransford Webbs sends zero waste to landfill

The Bransford Webbs Plant Company has announced that, working in conjunction with its in conjunction with its waste collection contractor Smiths of Gloucester, it is now a zero to landfill business.

As well as being at the forefront of the industry initiative to replace black plastic pots with a taupe kerbside-recyclable alternative, all the company’s waste which would traditionally have gone to landfill, is now being diverted through other means, including Energy from Waste (where it is burnt at over 850oC to generate heat to produce electricity) and Refuse Derived from Fuel (produced by sorting and processing solid general waste which is shredded and baled up to be used as fuel). Any unburnt waste collects as bottom ash and can be used in recycled building materials. In additional, all emissions from energy-from-waste generation are carefully controlled.

In a statement, Bransford Webbs said that were, “Very proud of their environmental credentials and have achieved the BS8555 accreditation for environmental management for ten consecutive years, having first achieved this important certification back in 2008. Our environmental objectives are reviewed and updated on an annual basis.”

Among other targets, the company has reduced its use of peat, and catches and reuses all the rainwater which falls on the glasshouses and buildings.

Photo Credit: Bransford Webbs The post Bransford Webbs sends zero waste to landfill appeared first on Hort News on 21 March 2019.

UK soft fruit continues popularity surge

The Fresh Produce Journal reports that consumer demand for soft fruit shows no signs of slowing down after the sector recorded a volume increase of 3.3 per cent last year, while values rose 7.9 per cent.

The article quotes Jo Mumford, business strategy analyst at fruit supplier AG Thames, as saying, “Blueberries and raspberries have featured with ever-increasing frequency in shoppers’ baskets, with the number of purchase occasions being a key driver of change for the berry category. Nearly nine in ten households now buy berries during the course of a year, which continues to show small uplifts as more and more shoppers encounter their benefits.”

However, issues such as labour availability and last year’s hot weather have caused issues for growers, while fierce supermarket competition is putting prices under pressure. While the growth seen in the category is significant, some analysts point out that it is lower than that seen more than a decade ago when the berry craze began.

Photo Credit: Pexels The post UK soft fruit continues popularity surge appeared first on Hort News on 21 March 2019

Veg charity teams up with HelloFresh

The Alexandra Rose Charity, which supplies vouchers that low income families can buy fresh fruit and vegetables, has teamed up with recipe box company HelloFresh to help provide fruit and veg for families on low incomes who struggle to afford it.

This partnership will see HelloFresh distribute leaflets, which tell the story of ‘Rose Voucher mum’ Lamratu, in its meal boxes until 29 March as part of HelloFresh’s mission to help families eat more veg with every meal.

“Before I started receiving Rose Vouchers my boys didn’t even know what fruit was because I couldn’t afford to buy any fruit or vegetables” says Lamratu. A Rose Voucher Mum for the last year, Lamratu has seen a huge improvement in her son’s health. After receiving Rose Vouchers from her Hackney Children’s Centre, Lamratu gradually introduced her children to an increasing variety of fruit and veg.

Andre Dupin, Head Chef at HelloFresh said, “We want to help ensure that every family includes more fresh fruit and veg into their diets – something that Alexandra Rose helps families to achieve every day.”

Jonathan Pauling, Chief Executive of Alexandra Rose Charity, added, “We are grateful that HelloFresh have given their considerable weight to support our charity’s mission. 23 per cent of parents in the UK worry about not having enough money to feed their families. Partnering with HelloFresh means thousands more people are learning about our work and how they can help us fund vouchers so we can reach even more families in need.”

Photo Caption: HelloFresh will distribute leaflets highlighting the work of the Alexandra Rose Charity in its recipe boxes.

Photo Credit: HelloFresh The post Veg charity teams up with HelloFresh appeared first on Hort News on 21 March 2019.

Aldi to trial plastic-free brassicas in Scotland

Aldi is to trial the sale of five different brassica products in Scotland without plastic over the next six weeks as part of its commitment to reduce packaging and plastic waste.

The retail has pledged to reduce all packaging by half by 20125, compared to the level used in 2015, and for 100 per cent of its own label packaging to be recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2022 (where it does not have a detrimental effect on product quality or safety, or increase food waste). It has also replaced black trays on four fresh produce lines with clear alternatives which are easier to recycle.

The trial will see cauliflowers and four types of cabbage; pointed, red, Savoy and white, sold without plastic wrapping. If successful and rolled out across the UK, the retailer says the move would take a further 110 tonnes of plastic out of the business.

Fritz Walleczek, Aldi UK Managing Director for Corporate Responsibility, commented, “We’re working hard to reduce plastic, but we also need to ensure that reducing packaging doesn’t lead to unnecessary food waste. We’re hoping the outcome of this trial will be positive, and something that we can roll out across the rest of the UK.”

Over the last year the retailer claims to have replaced more than 2,500 tonnes of plastic with recyclable alternatives across its supply base.

Photo Credit: Aldi – Picture by Simon Hadley The post Aldi to trial plastic-free brassicas in Scotland appeared first on Hort News on 21 March 2019.

American LED supplier enters European market

The Fluence brand of LED lighting, produced by international lighting company Osram, is to begin marketing its horticultural lighting range in Europe.

Founded in Texas in 2012, Fluence Bioengineering was founded in Texas in 2012 and has seen rapid growth, resulting in them now being one of the biggest players in the US and Canadian horticultural industry. In particular their LED solutions are used in vertical farming and legal cannabis cultivation, where it has the biggest share of the market. Last year Fluence was purchased by German-based Osram, whose LED chips were already used in Fluence products.

Timo Bongartz has been appointed as the new EMEA manager. He says that while the company expects legal cannabis production to grow in Europe, it is also looking to supply producers of more traditional horticultural crops. “With every country following its own rules, [cannabis]is not an easy market,” he points out.

The company has already supplied lights to indoor farming company Bowery Farming, and Timo adds, “Our RAZR and SPYDR solutions match the crop very well, and the companies match as well. These type of growers are used to innovating and are open to new developments .Therefore we also have a good fit with similar farms, especially in the Nordics: Sweden, Finland, Denmark for example. The fact that we’re supported by Osram gives them trust in our products as well.”

Photo Caption: In the US and Canada Fluence has become a leading supplier of LEDs for legal cannabis production

Photo Credit: Fluence by Osram The post American LED supplier enters European market appeared first on Hort News on 14 March 2019.

Report warns fruit and veg at risk of climate change

A new report warns that British-grown fresh produce is at risk from climate change due to factors such as a lack of water, unpredictable weather events and warmer average temperatures.

Published last month by The Climate Coalition: Recipe for disaster: climate change threatens British-grown fruit and veg,cites many of the supply issues caused by last year’s difficult growing conditions and warns that they could become the new normal.

According to the authors, who have drawn on research by the Priestley International Centre for Climate, apple growers lost around 25% of their harvest in 2017 due to unexpectedly late frosts. Carrot (down a reported 25-30%) and onion yields (reportedly down 40% on a normal year) were hampered in 2018 by warmer than average temperatures. Potato yields were down on average 20% in England and Wales in 2018 compared to the previous season, making it the 4th smallest harvest since 1960.

Other crops which the report’s authors say could suffer include grapes, cauliflower, lettuce and onions. Over the last decade more than half of UK farmers say their business has been affected by a severe climatic event.

Photo Caption: More than half the farmers in the UK say they have experienced severe weather events.

Photo Credit: NOAA Photo Library The post Report warns fruit and veg at risk of climate change appeared first on Hort News on 14 March 2019.

EU to launch fruit and veg observatory

The European Commission will launch a new market observatory for fruit and vegetables later this year, a move which it says will ‘bring greater transparency and analysis to [a]key sector for European agriculture.’ It will also launch a market observatory for wine at the same time.

Although fruit and vegetables account for 2401 per cent of EU agricultural output, because the fruit and vegetable sector comprises such a wide range of products, the focus of the new observatory will be on tomatoes, apples, citrus fruit, peaches and nectarines.

The Commission currently has four observatories for crops (cereals, oilseeds and proteins), sugar, meat and milk. As part of the plan sector experts will meet regularly to discuss the state of the market.

Photo Caption: The European Commission is to launch a new market observatory for fruits and vegetables.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons The post EU to launch fruit and veg observatory appeared first on Hort News on 14 March 2019.

Modified bacteria could replace pesticides

A team of researchers led by Cardiff University has identified bacteria which could provide an effective and safe biopesticide.

The Burkholderia group of bacteria is known to protect crops against a number of diseases, but studies linking them to serious lung infections in people with cystic fibrosis (CF) in the 1990s led to them being withdrawn from the market. By sequencing the genomic DNA of the bacteria, the team was able to identify Burkholderia’s antibiotic-making gene, Cepacin, and further testing demonstrated that Cepacin offers highly effective protection against damping off in plants.

Using genetic engineering techniques similar to those used to produce live vaccines, the researchers are also exploring how to improve the safety of the bacteria. “Burkholderia split their genomic DNA across 3 fragments, called replicons,” explained Professor Mahenthiralingam, lead researcher on the project. “We removed the smallest of these 3 replicons to create a mutant Burkholderia strain which, when tested on germinating peas, still demonstrated excellent biopesticidal properties.”

Work with mice suggests that this mutant strain does not persist in the lungs, and the project, which also involved the Universities of Warwick and Liverpool, and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, has now been awarded more than £1 million from BBSRC to help progress the next stage of research to develop an effective and safe biopesticide that does not build up to harmful levels in the environment.

Photo Caption: The modified bacteria was shown to be effective against damping off in peas

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons The post Modified bacteria could replace pesticides appeared first on Hort News

Europe predicts downturn in tomato consumption

The European Union says that it expects European tomato production to fall in response to reducing consumption across the region.

2018 production was 6.9 million tonnes, but a report on the EU’s agricultural prospects from 2018 to 2030 estimates that by 2030 this figure will drop to 6.7 million tonnes. Despite the fall in production, yields are anticipated to increase, ‘thanks to the installation of artificial light in the greenhouses and the extension of the season in the most important producing countries.’

By 2030, domestic consumption will fall from the current level 14.5kg per person to 13.6kg. However, while fresh tomato exports from the EU have reduced 0.3% a year over the last ten years, mainly due to the Russian produce veto in 2014. However the report predicts that exports will increase to 200,000 tons by 2030. This is 1.6% more than the average of the past five years. Tomato imports, particularly from Morocco and Turkey are expected to continue to grow by 0.4% per year until 2030.

While UK production only accounts for 0.5% of total EU tomato production, it is the most important market for EU tomatoes, currently accounting for 72% of total exports, most of which come from the Netherlands and Spain.2

Photo Credit: Pexels

The post Europe predicts downturn in tomato consumption appeared first on Hort News.

New varieties for East Malling Strawberry Breeding Club

A new factsheet from AHDB Horticulture summarises the attributes of the main varieties released in the second tranche of the East Malling Strawberry Breeding Club, as well as details of promising selections developed during the same period.

Three varieties from the second tranche (which started in 2013) are in the process of being commercialised. The late-season June-bearer Malling Allure (EM2157) and the disease resistant Everbearers Malling Champion (EMR564) and EMR639. 

Malling Allure is described as ‘a robust plant, with moderate vigour in comparison with other late-season varieties.’ It is 10-12 days later than Elsanta and has fruit quality similar to Malling Centenary. Malling Champion is ‘an early season Everbearer, which produces its peak harvest in July and picks steadily through August.’ It is resistant to crown rot (Phytophthora cactorum) and wilt (Verticillium dahliae) and shows moderate resistance to powdery mildew (Podosphaera aphanis), as does EMR639.

Six other selections from the programme are due to advance to large scale grower trials, including two June-bearers and four Everbearers. The East Malling Strawberry Breeding Club (EMSBC) was formed in 2008 to continue the national strawberry programme that began at East Malling Research in 1983. The second tranche of AHDB-funded work runs until 2023.

Photo Caption: Malling Allure

Photo Credit: Meiosis The post New varieties for East Malling Strawberry Breeding Club appeared first on Hort News