Greenco closing in on residue and chemical-free target

Dutch glasshouse grower Greenco has said its goal of growing 100 per cent residue-free "is within view" but the only remaining obstacle is the tomato russet mite.

Snacking tomatoes: Greenco supplies packs for European retailers
Snacking tomatoes: Greenco supplies packs for European retailers

The company produces snacking tomato packs to a number of continental retailers, so having products that are ready to eat is a priority.

It has already been growing with zero chemical input at its site in Helenaveen, Brabant, for the past three years. But growing under artificial light remains a challenge, according to crop manager Jules Klessens.

"Tomato russet mite thrives in crops grown under artificial light and no natural enemies are available as yet to combat it," he said. "In the event of an outbreak, we have to use chemicals. It's a great pity because otherwise we would be very close to being 100 per cent chemical-free and residue-free. Hopefully we will soon find a good natural enemy for this mite."

Growing in coir has allowed the company to benefit from Koppert Biological Systems' NatuGro programme of tailored substrate micro-organisms. "Coir already has its own soil life so the basis for the plant is better," said Klessens.

Co-owner and crop director Henk van der Loos added: "Our crops are stronger, their root systems are better developed and the plants have greater resilience. Even the taste is a little better."


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