Tag Archives: vegetable production

Southern England Farms trials English workers

Cornish-based vegetable grower Southern England Farms has taken part in the BBC programme Inside Out South West, highlighting the migrant labour crisis by employing a group of young people from Plymouth to pick cabbages.

After four hours the farm’s Eastern European staff had picked nearly 10 times as many cabbages as the young British workers. Jennifer Brunt, 23, who works in sales, said, “This is hard, my hands are too small and they’re cold and my nose is running. My fingers are already frozen and we haven’t even been here for an hour.”

Another woman, 22-year-old Cambridge-graduate Hottie Burrows, had to sit in a tractor to warm her hands up. “Honestly, I was in so much pain but I don’t quit,” she said. “Like last year I ran two marathons if I can do that why can’t I pick cabbages?”

The farm normally employs 500 pickers. Owner Greville Richards commented, “It’s rewarding if you want to get on. Some of the teams that we have here earn very good money. Now we are finding that we are Bulgarian and Romanian, purely because the Lithuanians and the Polish don’t want to come here because there’s nothing in it for them now with the way the exchange rate is.”

One British worker said they would “never” consider the job as a career.

Photo Caption: The farm normally employs 500 pickers.

Photo Credit: Southern England Farms

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Latest statistics show mixed fortunes for UK horticulture

Defra’s annual summary of UK horticulture shows mixed fortunes for the vegetable, fruit and ornamental sectors, with the value of field vegetables rising while protected veg and fruit fell.

The data shows that home produced vegetables were worth £1.3 billion in 2016, up 7.5% on 2015, although overall production fell by 5.2%. There was an increase in the value of field vegetables, which rose to £990 million (a £107 million increase) whilst the value of protected vegetables fell to £353 million (a £13 million fall). UK grown fruit fell in value to £670 million, a fall of 3.7% compared to 2015, with production at the same level as last year. The fall in value was largely driven by price, with a fall in the value of soft fruit due to a later start to the soft fruit season and a fall in production when compared to 2015.

Home production of vegetables contributed to around 54% of the total UK supply in 2016, 4.6% lower than in 2015. Home production of vegetables fell by 5.2% to 2.6 million tonnes. However, over the last 20 years total production of vegetables remains fairly constant between 2½ and 3 million tonnes. Overall, total supply was down 0.6% to 4.9 million tonnes. This is the first fall in total supply for 4 years.

For fruit, UK production contributed 17% of the total UK supply of fruit in 2016, 3.4% lower than in 2015, but home produced apples increased their share of the market to 42% a 6.8% increase on 2015. This was due to an increase in home production and a reduction in exports when compared to 2015. The total supply of fruit rose by 3.5% to 4.5 million tonnes in 2016.

Photo Credit: Defra

The post Latest statistics show mixed fortunes for UK horticulture appeared first on Hort News on 28 Sept 2017.

Research casts light on cabbage differences

White cabbage and Chinese cabbage have a lot in common despite the fact that two crops originate from two different Brassica species used and domesticated by farmers on two different continents.

Together with scientists from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Wageningen UR scientists have explained how it is possible that these two Brassica varieties at two very different global locations developed into so many diverse, but often very similar crops.

While the domestication of a crop is a long and complex process, there are rare examples in history of something called convergent domestication, in which a similar type of crop develops in different places and at different times. According to Guusje Bonnema, plant breeding scientist at Wageningen UR and one of the authors of the article in Nature Genetics, the cabbage crops we have in Europe and Asia are a fine example of this process. “These two Brassica species were apparently both relatively easy to domesticate, sometimes into crops that are very alike, such as heading cabbages and turnips and kohlrabies. There are Brassica crops in both Europe and Asia which are cultivated for their floral organs, like cauliflower, broccoli, broccoletto and caixin,” she said.

“Because a cabbage contains three copies of a specific gene, one copy can develop a mutation which makes the leaves fold, for instance, while other copies retain their original function.”

This research is the first proof that genome triplication increases the opportunity for diversity and convergent domestication of the two Brassica varieties. “It provides a fascinating insight into how domestication works and creates opportunities for domesticating new crops,” says Bonnema. Moreover, by giving a greater insight into how the underlying genes work, breeders can cultivate the perfect cabbage cultivar.

Photo Caption: Guusje Bonnema, associate professor Wageningen University

Photo Credit: Wageningen UR

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