Oct 2019

Berry Workshop

Berry Workshop

Wednesday the 2nd Of October 2019


Thank you to all that attended the Greenhouse Berry Workshop on Wednesday October 2nd.  Over 60 delegates attended.  The facility was excellent, perfectly suited to the event.  


The presentation by the key note speaker, Dr Mike Nicholls, provided an overview of the various berry crops that are currently grown in protected cropping conditions.   He also highlighted the possibilities of growing alternative berry crops, including gooseberry and boysenberries.   Two other presentations, one by Dr Gunjan Gera from Zonda Beneficials and the other by Marco van den Berg, Nutrition Product Category Manager for the Horticentre Group, provided fantastic technical information.


Production Systems:

Mike introduced different production systems, from traditional growing from the ground to the move to table systems and swing systems for strawberries, the different types of raspberry, blackberry and blueberry systems. 


Photo of raspberry system in mid to high tech greenhouse.  This has heating pipe rails that double up as the trolley transport system and if you look closely there is another heating pipe just above the growing media.  Horizontal wires are used to support the berries and the laterals are trained over the string to make picking easier.



Coir substrates was another main discussion point, as there is so much variation in coir.  Buffered or un-buffered product is available however, Mike suggested that you should consider ordering non-buffered and carry out the buffering yourself using your own irrigation system.  Marco van den Berg's presentation also touched on coir, which will be covered in a future article.


Coir after it has been mulched and put on giant concrete pads to dry.



Mike spent some time explaining techniques used for propagating Raspberries.  He prefers using cuttings for his material and not tissue culture techniques.


Cuttings from a raspberry dipped in rooting hormone to produce new canes.


A great number of topics were covered. However, I would like to cover, in more depth, in future articles the following:


  1. Planting Densities for each cultivar low tech v high tech
  2. The use of LED supplementary lighting and the effects on all year round production and taste. The type of light spectrum required for optimum growth
  3. Irrigation, EC, PH and WC targets applied and in runoff.  Estimate runoff % for each cultivar. 
  4. Temperature:  Day/Night and 24 hours in relation to light and fruit loading.  Generative and Vegetative growth phases
  5. Humidity control/recommendations
  6. C02 enrichment, levels required and observed benefits
  7. Plant maintenance, how to train them, de-leaf plants, prune them (can you elaborate on fruit loading per m2) from planting to picking.
  8. Production Average each Cultivar Annually based on Short Day planting?
  9. Labour units per Ha approximately, high tech efficiency vs low tech lack of efficiency?


Photo Gallery 

Special thanks to James Harris Operations Manager and Peter Holwerda Sales Manager for Apex Greenhouses who sponsored the morning tea.


Dr Michael Nichols was pleased to have previous students he lectured at University attend the workshop.  Coir was a big talking point of the conference.  So appropriate this photo was taken next to the Ecomix stand.


Horticentre is well established suppling products for greenhouses vegetables and flower growers and are also very involved with vines and berry crops.  Now that berries are progressing into covered crop situations their knowledge will be valuable for future developments in this sector.


(Left) Paul Marlow from  Aquasan and (Right) Hamish Frizzell, Pukekohe BNZ Agribusiness.


Thanks to Kimberly Woelke, office manager from PureLED for attending the workshop


Special thanks to Kay Airey from Primary ITO for contacting berry growers and alerting them of the workshop.  Thanks for helping me clear up as well.


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


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