Greenhouse News Technical

Canadian experts give insights to Pepino Mosaic Virus

Pepino can make everything else worse

Last week I attended a zoom meeting with experts and growers from Canada regarding their experiences with PepMV. Even though PepMV is not seen as detrimental to tomato production in Canada, the problem has been taken seriously, protections and precautions have been implemented.

During the early to mid-2000’s PepMV became an issue for the Canadian industry. Like NZ the strain was of a ‘mild nature’ that caused up to 10% losses. It was noted during low light periods or during high light/temperature intervals, when plants were under stress, the virus caused the most issues. Growers with artificial lighting had less issues.

The Canadians were able to access vaccines/inoculation from 2018, after government approval was granted.  The process to register and import the products from Europe sounded familiar to NZ.  The risks of mutation were one aspect authorities worked through with the industry.  I noted this comment from the meeting: ‘The difference between a mild strain and bad strain is about nine different mutations and this has not yet been seen and it was unlikely.’

The Canadian growers, that used the inoculation, introduced it as early as possible into the growing phase generally at the propagation houses.  Like we were informed by our English counterparts, PepMV will have different symptoms/outcomes depending on the variety of tomato.

They observed that if a grower (before vaccines/inoculation were available) had experienced symptoms/losses, from the virus, early in their crop cycle (winter) the plant would appear to grow out of these symptoms when the light improved(spring). However, there was a chance when the high light and temperature peaked (hot and high humid and over 30 degrees centigrade) the PepMV would remerge causing major issues/losses.  However, the earlier the crop gets the virus the better chance is has to grow through it and be stronger towards the end of the crop.  If PepMV develops later into the crop cycle potentially the worse the final outcomes.

For growers in NZ that have experienced issues with PepMV during the past winter, the summer will be key to determining the magnitude of the damage PepMV could pose into the future.

Even though the Canadians are concerned with PepMV they are increasingly anxious about Tomato brown rugose fruit virus (ToBRFV).  They are keeping an eye on the possibility of a vaccine for this virus and even the possibility of a ‘transgenic vaccine’ that could be effective on both PemMV and ToBRFV.


Eradication is unlikely once PepMV has infected a country.  Like the English the Canadians have found PepMV responds well (dies) to sanitation and thorough cleaning of the facility between crop cycles.

Thanks to all of our Canadian colleagues and Jeremy R. Thompson, PhD

Lead Virologist/Manager from MPI for organising this meeting along with Helen Barnes from Tomatoes NZ.

Article written and compiled by Stefan Vogrincic

All Article’s checked and edited by Marie Vogrincic

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New Look Grower2Grower Website on the way

Additional new functions added


Marie and I are very excited to announce that the new Grower2Grower website is on its way.  Earlier this year we sent out a questionnaire asking for feedback on what you wanted from the site and how we could improve Grower2Grower.  The redesign has been driven by that feedback.

Working with our website developers, and their professional marketing design team, we have created a bespoke look and feel, as well as added new functionality. We feel it will improve the user experience and hopefully be of more value to growers and suppliers. 

Grower2Grower is a hub of information, a site that brings growers and suppliers together.  Our goal is to provide all you need to know about the protected cropping industry, within New Zealand and Australia, in one place. 

Our growth, year on year, has been the catalyst for change.  It has been realised with the continued support from our advertisers and contributors, for which we are very grateful.


New functionality on the site includes;

  1. The ability for advertisers to up-load articles
  2. Improved Trade Directory (which once was the buyers guide)
  3. Articles can be audio-visual
  4. Improved ability to search for previous articles or under topic headings
  5. Event management
  6. Easy Payment features
  7. Easier to subscribe
  8. Increased social media presence
  9. Introduction of the Grower2Grower YouTube channel

There is increased capacity for more articles and advertising panels on our homepage.

So if you are interested in advertising please get in touch soon, we have packages available to suit all marketing budgets. 

E-mail or 

Greenhouse News Technical

Welcome Rain

Great for filling ponds but not so great for sensitive greenhouse crops


Last weeks heavy downpours were very welcome.  The water tanks were so low, before last week’s heavy rain, that unless it rained water would have to be brought in by truck.

The Auckland dam levels are up to 72.49% of their capacity.  However, the historical average is 91.38% for this time of the year.  This means that even though the levels are increasing Aucklanders will be under tight water restrictions for some time to come.  The next week looks like more rain is on the way.  Hopefully this increases dam levels further.


The only negative and consequence of the heavy rain has been the increased humidity and unwanted fungal pressure.  Two weeks ago, I reported on lower than average light levels, unfortunately this has continued.  Older crops will certainly be disliking the ‘in and out’ weather and when a crop is placed under stress and conditions are warm and wet the recipe for fungus infection is perfect. 

Cucumber and tomato crops are both in the firing line this week.  As well as pest pressure the changeable weather is making it hard to apply preventative fungicides at ideal times.


Funguses to look out for – tomato

  1. Powdery Mildew
  2. Leaf mould
  3. Botrytis
  4. Blight


Funguses to look out for – cucumber

  1. Downy mildew
  2. Gummy stem blight (Didymella) on the plant and fruit


There are some really fantastic products that can be used safely, there are even products with little or no with holding periods. 


Tip of the week:

Other options are to make sure that de-leafing is up to date and that there is good air circulation.  It is warm but minimum pipes are still very useful for controlling rapid spread of fungal infections even at this time of the year.



I appreciate your comments.  Please feel free to comment on the grower2grower Facebook page:

Article Written and compiled by Stefan Vogrincic, Consultant, Grower2Grower

Article Edited by Marie Vogrincic, Editor, Grower2Grower

Industry Profile Seeds

20 Years high wire cucumbers

Herman Hermans – from pioneering to success


‘Robotization and big data as the biggest developments '

Herman Hermans – Innocrop Consulting: ‘When I think back to when we started with high-wire, I remember exciting, pioneering times.’ The startup were times of trial and error and close collaboration between growers, consultants and BASF Vegetable Seeds to resolve bottlenecks in the shift to high wire cultivation.

In this video Hermans also speaks about the high-wire system having become a mainstay and the very important role that BASF must play with high quality and productive high wire varieties to be labor-friendly, easy to work with and disease resistant.

For the next 20 years Hermans sees robotization and big data as the biggest developments and challenges how this will affect the role of advisors in the future. One thing is certain: Hermans is ready for that challenge!




It’s been already in the 1990s that growers tried cultivating cucumbers in high wire tomato greenhouses, but it took the industry some more years to make it a real success. Today high wire cucumber growing has become the state-of-the-art system in many countries, giving the opportunity for market-oriented production, further optimization and automation.

At BASF Vegetable Seeds we are proud of being a vital part in this development. Together with you, we want to celebrate these 20 successful years in high wire cucumber cultivation in 2020. We will to take you with us on a thrilling journey from the past to the future. We will exchange our knowledge in stories, videos, masterclasses, network at several events and become even more inspired about the endless opportunities of cucumbers. 2020 will be full of surprises for all of us.

Let’s join and celebrate together.


For more information, please contact

Paula OHanlon
Market Development Vegetable Seeds


Mobile: +64 (0) 21 731 009, Email:
Postal Address: BASF New Zealand Ltd, , Level 4, 4 Leonard Isitt Drive, 2022 Auckland, New Zealand



Integrated Pest Management

IPM Taking the Natural Approach

“Why do we continue to make the same mistakes?”


Throughout the years we have all seen the negative impact chemicals have had on our environment and the ecosystem; from polluted waters to insect death, to residue build up and chemical resistance. So why do we continue to make the same mistakes?

Einstein’s definition of insanity is to ‘do the same thing over and over again, expecting different results’, so are we simply insane to continue using these potentially deadly synthetics on our food?

Many industries have relied on this chemical approach to control the spread of plant disease and pests – while this may have given the desired results initially, we are now seeing the negative long-term impacts of this process. There has also been a global shift in attitudes towards our food and how it is grown. As more and more people become conscious of what we put into our bodies, our practices and the impact they have on our environment, the more we need to look at alternative solutions.

Here at Zonda Beneficials we specialise in providing these solutions – not only in the form of bumblebees for pollination, but beneficial insects for pest control.

We believe that when using what nature has already supplied us, we can create a balance between pest and predator, disease and solution, that is not only beneficial to our health, but also sustainable and economical in the long run.

Once a predator has been introduced to a crop you will see lasting effects, with the beneficials taking up residence in the surrounding areas, increasing their natural population. This offers growers a huge advantage for future crops: with predators already in existence, balance becomes easier to obtain.

Also, by reducing, (and, in some cases, even eliminating altogether), the use of harsh chemicals a grower can avoid issues such as withholding periods and MRLs.

Having predators in your crop means very little though, if practices do not support a solid program. One of the fastest ways for pests to spread is through human interaction: passing through an ‘infected’ area and into a ‘clean’ area can aid in exponential population growth in sections that were previously unaffected. In order to truly see the benefits of a natural approach, we need to look at everything we do. Hygiene, behaviour and monitoring are equally as important as the solution when trying to create a balance.

Changing mind-sets and managing expectations is essential when making the shift to an IPM system.

When discussing IPM, we need to remember that the key word is ‘balance’, too often expectations are not realistic, and the process is abandoned before any benefits are seen. To make it work, you need a little patience and a lot of understanding – understanding of how your IPM works and how you can work for your IPM. Having a sound plan and open communication with your IPM specialist is essential and will produce impressive results.

Sustainability should be forefront in all of our minds as we advance. We can learn a lot from our past mistakes and take steps to avoid history repeating. At Zonda Beneficials our innovative techniques mean we can control gene diversity and ecological impact, ensuring the environment of the future. Our rigorous testing and evolutionary processes further add to the promise of tomorrow.

Globally, New Zealand has a reputation for high-quality products. By improving our processes and embracing a natural approach we can take advantage of the added marketing benefits. Further pushing our proud kiwi, ‘clean, green’ approach.

And with support, comes growth. Currently NZ is very limited with what products are available. With a higher demand we can push for approvals, research and establishment of even more options to cater to the ever-increasing need for alternatives.

By changing the way we think and work we can do big things, things that will have a lasting impact on the world we leave for our future generations.

Our team at Zonda Beneficials places huge importance on working closely with our growers to achieve the best possible outcomes. With experience and a wealth of knowledge to draw from, we can help answer any questions you may have.


If you agree that nature is best, get in contact with us to find out how we can help.


Zonda Beneficials




Ph: 0800 4 ZONDA (96632)

Greenhouse News

Heavy rain at last

Botrytis to follow?


What a great three or four days we’ve had with some welcomed heavy showers in the Auckland area.  It was very concerning to see how low the water reservoirs, that support Auckland’s residential population, had become in several news bulletins this week. The combined capacity of Auckland’s dams sat at 46% before the much-needed downpour. It is quite staggering that the one thing we complain about the most (the rain) is without doubt the biggest reason why this country is so successful, but possibly the primary sector appreciates this just a wee bit more than our city folk. 

Two weeks ago, I wrote about powdery mildew rapidly multiplying on a non-resistant commercial cherry tomato crop.  I also mentioned being aware that pressure, from other fungus, may start to increase.  Well this weather is a perfect invitation, and without any doubt trouble will be on its way.  Personally, I would not hesitate to get those preventatives on.  Botrytis, blight, downy mildew for all growers will be a concern.  For those growers who have not kept running boilers, or who have tried to save on expenses, this makes no sense.  Please use your equipment, otherwise you will be in for a long Winter. 

 On TV last week a greenhouse tomato grower was filmed spraying his crop.   We all spray, I don’t think the public should be concerned if they see this because organic growers spray, they spray vegetable crops all of the time, I know I worked for a (massive) company that grew organic tomatoes, cucumbers and eggplants. Spraying does not automatically imply chemicals are being applied as there are natural and biological products used more and more.  I have been amazed by the introduction of new very friendly products in recent times.  Products like HuwaSan and many other products have been great for the industry to dramatically reduce or even replace the need for older chemistry. 

Larger companies in New Zealand need a massive pat on the back as they have been the catalyst for introducing friendly biological products.  Spraying is inevitable, organic or not, and if you don’t have to apply a spray at all during a one-year crop cycle please tell me and the world your secret.  Growers and industry bodies are constantly working hard to make sure Integrated Pest Management works effectively, this can only be achieved with a much lower rate of crop spraying so it is in the interest of growers to spray, even biological applications, to a minimum.

With pricing holding up and returns stabilising, growers I hope will maintain best practice.  Food is a need not a want so until a pill is invented, so we don’t need to eat for a week, you are the most important industry. 


Source of information and supporting content below:


If you do need your sprayer serviced or calibrated  – Contact Grant Beare from Educhem.  news/post/optimising-spray-coverage/ .  Educhem also run Growsafe courses.  W:

I appreciate your comments.  Please feel free to comment on the grower2grower Facebook page:

Article Written and compiled by Stefan Vogrincic, Consultant, Grower2Grower

Article Edited by Marie Vogrincic, Editor, Grower2Grower


Four Seasons in One Day

Light levels still good enough for increase in production:

At the end of May of this year a grower, I consult to, produced 61.5 kg per m2 from a crop of loose round standard tomatoes that was in the greenhouse for less than 11 months from planting to pull out.   What made this achievement even more impressive was this crop has no Co2 enrichment!   It was a crop where pinching the head in my book was a crime as it would have easily have produced for another month tipping the production well over 65m2.  However, even growers need a holiday.

The greenhouse is a standard Venlo, well over 15 years old, so not overly modern.  Each year production has been increasing and this particular crop’s production was another benchmark for future crops.  Working with the grower, on a weekly basis, it is encouraging that this year’s crop registration is showing a .4kg m2 increase compared to last year’s crop after the first 3 full weeks picking.  Same planting dates, same variety, same plant spec from the nursery.  It may not seem that important but it is a positive trend.  None more for the fact this is the second season growing in the same coir substrate.  Which for anyone who knows me, growing in second season substrate is not something I am a big fan of.

The start of spring was fantastic but since then we have had a rocky two or three weeks with severe weather systems up and down the country.  There has been rain, which I am not knocking because our farmers need rain.  There has been a lot of wind, I had to pull down a palm tree which was going to fall on my house week before last!  Not least it has been quite chilly.  Even though it has been four seasons in one day for every day in the past few weeks the light levels have been good, proof of this is the increase in production I have noticed.   I have been quite impressed with the plant health and the general quality of plants I have seen.

Another grower, I visit, increased his loose round tomato density back to 3.3 heads/m2 will achieve 8 trusses on the extra stems before pinching the heads.  This crop is picking extremely well and the hard work the grower did in May and June, when prices were the lowest in memory, is now paying off.  With plant strength the key driver, despite the weather being variable, there has been enough light to load this plant to its potential.  There is a case to carry higher fruit numbers but with the size sweet spot of 60-70mm there was a higher risk that too much fruit would fall into the 50-60mm fruit size category.

My advice (tomatoes) is when the sun does appear that you use it to your advantage.  Basically, increase day temperature on light.  The only constraint there could be right now is if your crop has root issues.  Fruit loading can always be reduced but right now I would be running with speed because average weekly light levels are not that bad.  Don’t be reckless, but if you don’t try and get your plants production potential then you may be missing out on vital production.

I appreciate your comments.  Please feel free to comment on the grower2grower Facebook page:

Article Written by Stefan Vogrincic, Consultant, Grower2Grower

Article Edited by Marie Vogrincic, Editor, Grower2Grower

Supporting Services

Kiwi Labour Registration Tech Improves Staff Productivity

Freshwest Discusses Their Experience


Rising labour costs is one of the biggest challenges facing growers today. Adam Forbes, founder of BumperCrop, is committed to solving this problem. He has worked with over a dozen growers, over the past year, getting to know their operations and collaborating with them to identify innovative ways to utilise technology.

NZ based BumperCrop started out with an automated substrate monitoring product, and is now expanding their offering, after listening to growers regarding the need for a greenhouse labour registration system. One grower, who is benefiting from implementing BumperCrop’s system, is Gaven Naylor, owner of Freshwest who grows capsicums in Waiuku. “Staff members are performing better, and I am able to plan and organise more effectively now.”

BumperCrop’s Operations App is designed to be easy to use and works on tablets and phones, allowing staff to simply and quickly capture data while they are working around the greenhouse. Information gets synced across the company, and the App works across the entire greenhouse, even in areas without Wi-Fi. “Growers select their own Android or IOS hardware. This lowers costs and gives more flexibility depending on each grower’s specific needs,” said Adam.

Initially, Gaven had some reservations about the data capture process slowing staff down, but that did not turn out to be the case. “Staff actually enjoy tracking the completion of the tasks and getting credit for them. Overall staff are more efficient and have greater job satisfaction due to better awareness of the work that is being done. The data capture itself takes minimal time with the App being so easy to use. The intuitive design also helps to guide new staff and get them up to speed on Freshwest’s processes quickly. “


A Freshwest team member captures row picking data on an Android tablet.

BumperCrops Operations App user interface, displays a list of open tasks and data collected from each row.


Customisable reports are automatically generated from the data, providing a dashboard of operational performance. “The report dashboard makes it easy to understand what is going on at any time” says Gaven. Gaven utilizes live picking reports to understand the production cycle of each of his crop varieties and to predict yield more accurately. “I can now set-up the market more effectively, saving on costs and getting better prices. By mid-morning of a pick I have an accurate indication of what the yield will be which I use to setup the market with distributors. Even before a pick starts, I now have a much better idea of production based on the historical trends.”


Gaven reviews BumperCrop Reports on his PC.


BumperCrop live Daily Summary and Picking reports


Gaven tracks the performance of each staff member across different tasks such as picking and winding, enabling him to offer bonuses to the best performers. This type of employee recognition and reward system incentivises all employees to continue to improve their productivity. He now knows how long it takes to get jobs done and can plan his weeks more effectively. Another report that has given Gaven a new level of understanding is the production amount for each row. “I can see which rows are performing best and worst, and from there start to understand the reasons why. This is critical information for planning future crops.”

Gaven evaluated several options before deciding on BumperCrop, and he is very happy with his choice. “The other solutions I looked at were not as user friendly, were not adaptable and cost too much. BumperCrop has been able to tailor the solution to my operation and provide responsive local support. I would recommend them to any other grower who wants to improve their staff productivity and reduce costs.”

Adam is now working to expand the system by simplifying other time consuming tasks in the greenhouse. “We’ve developed a crop registration module to make it really easy to track plant growth over time so growers can understand plant performance. We also have other modules in development for recording fertilizer usage. We’re looking to work with growers to understand their needs and develop products that make their jobs easier. “Said Adam.


For more information contact Adam Forbes, Managing Director of BumperCrop.


Ph: 027 3512 512


Sili-Fert P Two for One Promotion

Maximum natural resistance against biotic and abiotic stress




Tuakau based company AQUASAN INTERNATIONAL are your local distributors of Sili-Fert P, a liquid silicon fertiliser with micronutrients which is applied by spray or irrigation. When correctly applied, this results in the following outcomes:

  1. Stronger fruits, leaves and plants
  2. Reduced need for pesticides and other chemical treatments
  3. Better resistance to drought and salt stress
  4. Higher yields and more consistent harvests


Your fellow growers have successfully been using Sili-Fert P to increase resistance to fungi and insect hosted infections, while also lowering the vulnerability to nutrient imbalances and toxic chemicals in soil and irrigation water. Further Sili-Fert P has been shown to mitigate the risk of frost damage.

One of the benefits of Sili-Fert P allows the plants to develop their maximal natural resistance against biotic and abiotic stress*. Crops are already under intense pressure from changes in conditions including sudden bursts of intense sunlight and heat after weeks of ‘soft’ weather in glasshouses.  Generally, crops will ‘harden’ and become more resilient to this change in weather but the effects of the stress may lead to a weakening of the plants root systems and reduce the natural defences of the plant against fungal, bacterial and insect pressure.  This is often the time harder chemicals are used, but instead consider using Sili-Fert P which is 100% soluble and not harmful to plants and humans.

Field Trials performed by Roam Technology, the company that produce Sili-Fert-P, were very successful on the following crops:

Rice, Wheat, Barley, Potatoes, Onions, Sugar Beet, Flower, Cucumber, Tomato, Soybeans, Berries, Apples and Pears.






Please contact Paul for more information on Sili-Fert-P if required.


Explanation of Biotic and Abiotic Stress on Plants:

Biotic stress is stress that occurs as a result of damage done to an organism by other living organisms, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites, beneficial and harmful insects, weeds, and cultivated or native plants.

Whereas a biotic stress would include living disturbances such as fungi or harmful insects, abiotic stress factors, or stressors, are naturally occurring, often intangible and inanimate factors such as intense sunlight, temperature or wind that may cause harm to the plants and animals in the area affected.

Integrated Pest Management

They will not go away!

Caterpillars are still causing crop damage nearly two weeks into June

It is simply astounding (not in a good way) that at this time of the year so many growers, all over the country, are still having issues with caterpillars.  It is the second week of winter, in New Zealand, but after a mild autumn with little or no frosts, the outside populations have not regressed.  They are eating their way through a myriad of different cultivars.   Many growers have been using biological insecticides, such as Bacillus Thuringiensis (kurstaki strain), but the general consensus, from conversations I have had with growers, is concern that it is not working as well as it has in the past, they are struggling to eliminate and control these recurring populations.

I was hoping the article I wrote, posted in late March, would have been the final of the year in regards to caterpillars.  Unfortunately, I think the problem still needs to be addressed.  Last week, in fact even on Monday of this week, I have seen countless numbers of caterpillars causing vast amounts of damage.  As if growers don’t have enough to deal with!  At one property the leaf looked like it had been shot at by a double barrel shot gun.  However, what was pleasing to see is that the BT, that was recently applied, had annihilated the caterpillar population.  There appeared to be a 100% success rate. 

The spraying of products, at any time, is not desirable but least of all in winter.  As discussed in other articles, fungus issues are at the forefront of problems with the warm, wet weather we’ve had.  Keeping your plants healthy is a priority.  Don’t overload your plants, it may be warm but light levels are now dipping to the lowest accumulated weekly light sum this calendar year and will be low for the next six to seven weeks.  I would stress that when you are applying BT, you make sure there is not any residual chemicals left over from previous spraying applications in your tanks or hoses.  Make sure you flush out your tanks multiple times before mixing a BT with water. 


I appreciate your comments.  Please feel free to comment below or on the grower2grower Facebook page:

Article Written by Stefan Vogrincic, Consultant, Grower2Grower

Article Edited by Marie Vogrincic, Editor, Grower2Grower