Tag Archives: tomatoes

Rijk Zwaan highlights potential of snack vegetables

Healthy snacking is becoming increasingly popular around the world and Rijk Zwaan believes that it can offer a number of innovative options to the snack vegetable market.

Among the lines that the company will be highlighting at this year’s Asia Fruit Logistica event in September are snack tomatoes in a variety of colours, Silky Pink tomatoes and its One-bite cucumber.

As well as red, orange and yellow tomatoes in different sizes, it is also offering pear-shaped snack tomatoes, light-green or bicolour mini cucumbers and mini bell peppers in a variety of colours. According to the company, at just 5 centimetres long, its One-bite mini cucumber is ‘truly unique.’

The Silky Pink cocktail tomato is the latest in the company’s range, with a cherry and beefsteak version promised in the future. In a press release, Rijk Zwaan added, “The snack vegetable offering also includes robust yet appealing packaging concepts that are ideal for online retail in Asia.

“Guided by [our]motto of ‘Sharing a healthy future’, Rijk Zwaan is committed to working together to further develop the market for fresh vegetables.”

Photo Caption: Rijk Zwaan believes that the snack vegetable market is set to grow

Photo Credit: Rijk Zwaan

The post Rijk Zwaan highlights potential of snack vegetables appeared first on Hort News on 20 August 2018.

EU tomato production expected to reduce in 2018

Overall tomato production within the European Union is expected to decrease this year due to significant reductions in outdoor production of processing crops in Spain.

The latest EU figures show that production last year was some 3 per cent higher (at a total of 18.5 million tonnes) than in 2016, again driven by an increase in processing crop production as fresh crop output actually fell by 2 per cent.

The forecast production of Iberian crops is expected to be 22 per cent lower this season, with some 3,000 less hectares planted in Extramadura alone – largely due to the wet weather and thunder storms seen in April and May. Trade body TomatoEurope expects the overall production of process types of tomatoes to be some 12 per cent lower than last year, although the output from Portugal and Italy is expected to be in line with previous years.

It is also important to note that these forecasts were made before the recent very hot weather, and does not account for any effect on final yields which may result.

The post EU tomato production expected to reduce in 2018 appeared first on Hort News on 1 August 2018.

Algorithms for accurate tomato crop estimates

According to Dutch firm HortiKey, continues increases in the area of tomato production globally mean that growers need to adopt new digital technologies in order to be able to manager ever larger production facilities.

Their aim is to improve the gathering of reliable plant data from greenhouses, so that analytical analysis becomes more robust and useful in commercial situations. The firm employed Wageningen UR to develop a series of algorithms to classify tomatoes automatically.

The assessment is done when the fruit is still hanging on the vine in the greenhouse and is independent from the available lighting conditions, something which the company says human beings cannot.

With these algorithms new data is generated from the greenhouse in a way never shown before, together with algorithms for automatic counting,” explains Abdreas Hofland, General Manager at HortiKey. “It is the basis for the Plantalyzer: an autonomous driving platform from Berg Hortimotive with sensors and software to analyze the tomatoes. Prognosis software from Letsgrow.com analyzes the gathered data to calculate an accurate crop estimate.

“The Plantalyzer is a good example of how algorithms can help growers to improve their performance. The gain is higher customer satisfaction, more control over the price-making process, more stability in planning and thus, a contribution to company continuity.”

Photo Credit: HortiKey

The post Algorithms for accurate tomato crop estimates appeared first on Hort News on 23 July 2018.

First tomato crop at Sterling Suffolk to be planted in December

Sterling Suffolk, the new tomato nursery being built at Great Blakenham in Suffolk, says that it is on track to plant the first crops this winter with a view to harvesting the first on-the-vine tomatoes from mid-February 2019.

The first 5.6 ha phase of what is eventually intended to be an 17 ha site, including glasshouses, packing facilities and offices, is now well under construction and according to the company the 8.3 m tall structure will be ‘the most environmentally efficient glasshouse in the UK.’

Originally the nursery planned to use surplus heat from a new waste disposal incinerator being built nearby, but in March 2016 it said that government changes to the Renewable Heat Incentive meant that this option could not be investigated immediately.

Sterling Suffolk Ltd Director Cliff Matthews told the Ipswich Star: ““This is agriculture on an industrial scale. There is an art and science to growing tomatoes and we have a very good expert involved, Richard Lewis, one of the best in the UK. We aim to produce 50,000 vines per week. It is more about the taste than the quantity. These will be top of the range quality.”

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

The post First tomato crop at Sterling Suffolk to be planted in December appeared first on Hort News on 18 July 2018.

New tomato harvesting robot tested

Israeli start-up MetoMotion hopes that its new Greenhouse Robotic Worker (GRoW), which is described as ‘a multipurpose robotic intensive system for labor-intensive tasks in greenhouses’ will impress industrial users with the ability to harvest tomatoes.

The company currently has a patent pending for its 3D Vision System is to detect ripe fruit and calculates their location. The system designed to locate a stem without the need for exact data and to cut and catch fruits in a single operation. The company says the unit will also clear away obstacles and will not damage plant or fruit.

“With GRoW, we’ve tried to solve a complex problem in a smart, simple and effective manner,” says MetoMotion CEO Adi Nir. “The system is designed for a simple operation and a smooth integration into an existing greenhouse infrastructure and practice. We want to reduce the limitations and the high costs associated with human labour in greenhouse vegetable production.” However, the machine is still some way from commercialisation, with the developers seeking to raise $1.5 million in funding, together with another $1 million from government grants.

MetoMotion is not the only company working to robotically harvest greenhouse crops. In July, Wageningen University & Research (WUR) will be demonstrating the SWEEPER pepper harvesting robot in the commercial greenhouse of ‘De Tuindershoek’ in Ijsselmuiden, the Netherlands. According to WUR, the SWEEPER robot is the first sweet pepper harvesting robot in the world to be demonstrated in a commercial greenhouse.

Photo Caption: Render of the GRoW robot

Photo Credit: MetoMotion

The post New tomato harvesting robot tested appeared first on Hort News on 21 June 2018.

New ‘Tomato Expression Atlas’ dives deep into the fruit’s flesh

Researchers have published a ‘spatiotemporal map’ of gene expression for all tissues and all the developmental stages of tomato fruit which highlights how a fruit changes from inside to out as it ripens.

How a fruit ripens has long been an important question for breeders, and with the global tomato market worth around $55 billion a year, tomato is an important subject for understanding the genetic basis of commercially important traits, such as size, colour, flavour, and nutritional content.

“We needed unbiased sampling that was as representative as possible. For that purpose, we harvested in total more than 400 samples from more than 60 randomly selected individual tomato plants,” explained postdoctoral scientist Philippe Nicolas who was involved in the multi-partner project.

The researchers carefully dissected the tomato tissues by hand and with lasers to isolate and sequence RNA from individual tissues and even cells. The sequence data was then compiled, parsed, and organized into the Tomato Expression Atlas (TEA), where it can be analyzed to investigate the various biological processes important for fruit development.

“The TEA database offers an unprecedented level of interactivity and novel ways to visualize complex, multidimensional expression data,” added scientist Lukas Mueller, referring to the TEA’s graphic interface that allows users to visualize gene expression through heat maps and fruit pictographs.

Photo Caption: Tomato fruit at the different developmental stages used for this study.

Photo Credit: The Tomato Expression Atlas

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Panasonic unveils tomato picking robot

Last month at Tokyo’s International Robot Exhibition, electronics giant Panasonic showcased an agricultural robot which the company claim can perform complex repetitive tasks, such as harvesting tomatoes.

The new harvesting robot, which the company stresses is still very much under development, was one of a number of robotic devices Panasonic showcased at the event. The machine runs on a rail and identifies the ripe fruit before picking them gently using a ‘special end effector’ which cuts can catches the fruit to prevent damage.

‘With newly developed sensors and image processing technology, Panasonic is developing harvest robots that can accurately assess colour, shape, and location,” the company said in a statement. ‘This robot can even pick fruits such as tomatoes that were thought difficult to harvest with machinery without leaving a single scratch. And by connecting to the network, it can automatically move around the ridges and transport the tomatoes to baskets or even change baskets, so it can autonomously undertake every step of the harvesting process.’

The machine has a claimed work rate of 10 fruits per minute, but unlike human pickers, it can operate without breaks for up to 24 hours a day.

Photo Caption: Panasonic has been working on its tomato picking robot for several years.

Photo Credit: YouTube

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World’s smallest tomato introduced in US

At the recent PMA Fresh Summit in New Orleans, it was announced that NatureFresh™ Farms will exclusively grow and market Tomberry® tomatoes from Eminent Seeds NL in Canada, the United States and Mexico from 2018.

“The Tomberry® is unique in size and has caught the interest of our retail partners” explained Matt Quiring, Executive Retail Sales Manager for NatureFresh™ Farms. “The snacking trend in North America has exploded and we continue to search for new items that will help grow our snacking category. This pearl sized fruit’s unique size is something hard to miss and even more difficult to pass by without picking up.  Once a consumer tries them, we are confident that they will be coming back for more. Visually, it is candy to the eyes. From a sensory standpoint, we can back that up.”

“We are pleased to partner with Eminent NL” said Peter Quiring, President and Owner of NatureFresh™ Farms. “This is a perfect fit to complement our TOMZ® snacking category and our brand strategy. We want to grow and market the best tasting tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers and we are excited to offer this for the first time from our Leamington Ontario greenhouse starting next spring. Our research team works hard at identifying these new varieties that taste exceptional, and we look forward to the new opportunities they provide for future consumers.”

Photo Credit: NatureFresh™ Farms

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Thanet Earth completes sixth greenhouse

Kent-based Thanet Earth has competed construction of the sixth greenhouse on its site near Birchington. The new 7ha of glass means that the company will grow nearly a quarter of all the tomatoes grown in the UK, including its exclusive Piccolo variety.

The new block includes high pressure sodium grow lights and a combined heat and power unit. The company claims that in winter, the total of 31 ha of lit UK tomatoes will represent 75 per cent of UK lit production.

Thanet Earth managing director Des Kingsley said, “There’s an enormous uncertainty around the future for imported trade at the moment, and it’s widely acknowledged that the UK has to improve its self-sufficiency in food production. We’re working as hard as we can to add more top-quality home-grown volumes to the market but there’s still a huge gap between the demand for British tomatoes all year round and the available supply volumes.”

The company has also installed sodium grow lights in greenhouse that it is now switching to cucumber production for next year, saying it will be the UK’s first high-wire, light assisted cucumber crop. Overall Thanet Earth has planning permission to construct up to seven greenhouses as part of an estimated £135 million joint-venture with several partners including specialist growers.

Photo Caption: The new greenhouse features high pressure sodium grow lights.

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New mating disruption technique offers hope for Tuta absoluta control

Trials funded by AHDB Horticulture have discovered a synthetic sex pheromone that confuses male Tuta absoluta moths so they can’t find females to mate with. The chemical, Isonet-T, offers new hope to commercial tomato growers for control of the devastating pest.

In the trials the mating disruption technique led to complete population control with no visible crop damage during the first 22 weeks when placed amongst plants on arrival in glasshouses. At the same time, growers adapting the research for their own trials also experienced exceptional results with pest population growth stopping immediately.

Richard Bezemer, Cleveland Nurseries, who participated in the trials said, “We experienced severe Tuta absoluta populations in 2016 for the first time. The trials have been so successful in our nursery that we now believe we are completely free of the pest and the cost of the pheromone off-set investment in other control products.”

Gracie Emeny, knowledge exchange manager at AHDB Horticulture, added, “We thought Tuta absoluta was under control but it came back with a vengeance in the 2016 season after developing resistance to one of the key plant protection products used in integrated pest management programmes. This is a brilliant breakthrough for the industry but we would stress the need for careful use to make sure this control option stays available to growers for the long term.”

Further work is now underway at University of Exeter, to study the impact of the technique on female moth reproduction.

Photo Caption: Tuta absoluta

Photo Credit: Rob Jackson / AHDB Horticulture

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