Industry mourns Geoffrey Wells, tomato grower with 'appetite for innovation'

Tributes have been paid to tomato grower Geoffrey Wells, who passed away on 20 October, aged 88.

Colleagues have described Wells, whose funeral took place last week at St Giles Church in Goodrich, as "a leading light" in the horticulture industry.

British Tomato Growers' Association representative Gerry Hayman said: "He was involved in the industry when it was a golden time. There were tremendous things happening and he was right in the thick of it."

Melrow Salads representative Bernard Sparkes added: "Geoffrey was a well-respected grower, with a keen eye for detail and an appetite for innovation, as well as being an inspiring person manager."

Wells was a pioneer in early, long-season tomato production and was the first commercial grower to install a CO2 bulk tank on a glasshouse nursery, before the days when natural gas was generally available for CO2 enrichment.

He was manager and a director of Man of Ross glasshouse nursery in Goodrich, near Ross-on-Wye in Herefordshire, during the 1970s and 1980s. He was also an active member of the Tomato Working Party for many years.

Wells was a contributing grower to the Grower Recording Scheme, which published and compared monthly industry production data in Grower. He also established a groundbreaking breeding unit on the nursery for parasitic wasp Encarsia formosa.

Sparkes said: "Wells was at the forefront of the development of high-wire training for tomatoes - introducing the ABT wire 'bobbins' on which we all became so reliant."

Wells' nursery was also a demonstration farm for nutrient film technique during the days of ADAS.

He is survived by his wife Phyllis and four children.

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