Berries in Greenhouses
High Tech Berry Growing in Greenhouses is Becoming more Popular.
Recently growers in Europe, and other parts of the world, have started growing berry crops in hi- tech greenhouses. Initially it was strawberries, but now raspberries and blackberries are quickly coming into hi tech greenhouses. The highly publicised ‘added health benefits’ from certain berries are making them extremely popular with consumers not to mention how great they taste.
It is evident that this sector could grow exponentially in the next five to twenty years. What is noticeable is the different structures that berries are being grown in overseas and the ones that some growers are moving towards here. They appear to be poles apart. Growers in the UK and Europe are starting to grow berries in super high-tech environments, modern greenhouses, heating systems, supplementary lighting, etc. There are no shortcuts. In NZ, to my knowledge, the high-tech greenhouse growers produce mainly vegetable crops. We certainly have the structures and the growers to grow berries in high-tech structures. What I have heard and seen is NZ outdoor berry growers starting to cover crops with low tech tunnel houses and structures. Their capital investment is low and it is like they are just treading carefully in the water, not dipping their toes too deep as they are fearful of drowning. Or is it something else?
Hi Tech, Strawberry on Hanging gutters. Check out the insect netting and diffused glass!!
I think there are three large advantages to growing berries. Firstly, for our local market where all year around fresh product could be supplied. The second advantage I see is berries can be frozen and stored for both local and export markets. The ability to freeze the berries, without losing too much of the health benefit, must make it a desirable product to grow. The third is the storage ability and the control this will give growers. Any chance of frozen fruit arriving to market before it goes off is negligible. It will allow for controlled supply and very low percentage of waste. For fresh berries to be exported it would have to air freighted, possible, but it would need premium pricing.
I love the idea of NZ becoming involved in this sector in a more high-tech fashion. There is a real opportunity here for small, medium and large size scale business to succeed. The government is looking at cherries as a growth industry which is absolutely positive but perhaps this should be on their radar as well. Job creation, export dollars and wealth creation. That’s all that needs to be said.
I hope and expect this sector will expand. I will be keeping a close eye on any new projects with great interest.
The cover photo shows LED lighting being tested to see if there is an impact on the production of this Blackberry crop in Holland.
Young strawberry crop recently flowering and fruiting, UK
Blackberry crop. UK.
FYI, this cherry crop in Europe has been covered. I have heard (speculation) one grower in NZ is covering a 3ha cherry orchid with a greenhouse which will be fixed but have its roof retract when the weather is good!
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Article Written by Stefan Vogrincic, Consultant, Grower2Grower
All photos supplied are via social media sites except the cover photo.