Fruit Focus's blueprint, which has proved so successful in recent years, is being repeated for the 2012 event but with additional attractions that will make attendance even more worthwhile. The event encompasses the whole fruit industry, which means that it includes something for all growers irrespective of their size and crops.
As usual, the event will be staged at East Malling Research (EMR), on 25 July. The date sits mid season for most fruit crops and gives growers the opportunity to discuss how the marketing and production season is progressing and what improvements can be made for next year.
Visitors will be able to see and hear about new soft fruit varieties as well as melons - a novel crop for the UK - and listen to the minister of agriculture, the NFU president and other leading industry figures addressing crucial issues. Other attractions include demonstrations of machinery and equipment as well as tours of some of EMR's latest research developments.
Rebecca Dawson, marketing manager at event organiser Haymarket Business Exhibitions, says its layout, which has worked so well since it was reorganised four years ago, is being retained. "Visitors like the courtyard-type layout," she adds. "It means that they don't have to walk far to the (120 or so) stands and there is an area in the centre where people can meet and sit down."
Mack is the event's principal sponsor for the second of the three years for which it has signed up. The other key backers are Berry Gardens, Syngenta Bioline and the NFU. Berry Gardens will be celebrating its 40th anniversary at the event.
Mack communications manager Judy Whittaker describes Fruit Focus as an ideal vehicle for supporting the company's commitment to growers and UK fruit production and helping to increase the volume of home-grown berry and stone fruit, including apricots, that it handles.
The company is leading the way in establishing melon production in the UK. Over the past four years, it has organised a number of trials on growers' farms and another in two polytunnels at EMR that will feature in the tour.
"The crucial thing about melons is not their novelty (in the UK) but providing the right conditions for growing a quality product," says Whittaker. "At Fruit Focus time, when we start harvesting melons, the imported product is not of fantastic quality and so we will hit an important quality gap in the marketing window."
The event's something-for-everyone aim will be partly satisfied by the increasingly popular Vines to Wines feature, incorporating for the first time the WineSkills initiative funded by Defra and the EU. The scheme began in January 2010 to provide training for wine producers and newcomers to the crop. Project coordinator Jo Cowderoy of Plumpton College says she was told by an industry leader that since its inception it has moved the industry forward by eight to 10 years.
"At Fruit Focus, WineSkills will be targeted mostly at new entrants, especially those in horticultural production wanting to diversify into wine growing," she explains. "There will be a series of short seminars covering vineyard establishment and management and two sessions on canopy management using the vines on site. These will explain how much canopy you need and how to control it. There will also be sessions on pesticide spray application."
Canopy management will be explained by Vine-Works' D'Arcy Gander and James Dodson and the spraying workshop will be covered by Brian Speed of Three Counties Training. In addition, viticulture adviser Duncan McNeil will advise on setting up a vineyard and answer questions on the subject of the UK wine industry.
Fruit forums and talks
Three fruit forums will be held, the first on Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform plans for horticulture chaired by the NFU chief adviser on horticulture Hayley Campbell-Gibbons and addressed by NFU senior CAP and international affairs adviser Gail Soutar.
The subject of the second forum will be securing a successful UK horticulture industry, again chaired by Campbell-Gibbons. Minister of agriculture Jim Paice and NFU president Peter Kendall will offer their views on the matter.
EMR researcher Dr Mark Else and Andrew Chesson from soft-fruit grower Ightham in Kent will speak at the third session, chaired by Syngenta Bioline's Dr Richard Greatrex, on optimising water and fertiliser inputs for improving the profitability of strawberry production. Else will describe his Defra, Horticultural Development Company and HortLINK-funded work at EMR that has led to significant savings.
EMR's popular research tours are being repeated. The subjects will be its work on new raspberry varieties introduced by Feli Fernandez, melon production, a very promising new East Malling Breeding Club June bearer and the new concept cherry orchard.
Visitors will see the centre's second commercial melon crop, under the care of farm manager Graham Caspell, comprising the varieties Eminenza and Magritte. Seven other varieties are being grown in a small-scale trial.
The new early to mid season June bearer will be described by breeding club project manager Adam Whitehouse. Coded EM1764, it was first trialled at EMR in 2008. It showed outstanding fruit quality including excellent flavour and good berry size.
In the demonstration area, John Deere's narrow fruit tractor, the 5100GF, will be working, as will the Claas Elios tractor equipped with a CAM Pilot automatic steering system. Platipus Anchors' end post anchoring kits and Micron's low-volume controlled droplet sprayers, the Undavina and Spraymiser, will also be operating.
Numerous companies will have stands for the first time or will launch new products. Among them are MeeGaa Substrates and Shakti Cocos, Dutch companies that cooperate in manufacturing and supplying coir composts. They own production and manufacturing facilities in most of the countries where coconuts are grown.
MeeGaa Substrates claims to be a pioneer in the production and use of coir products, which can be delivered to growers direct from its factories in bulk or big bags, big bales, boxes or 50- and 70-litre growbags. Shakti Cocos can also supply its coir products direct in the form of compressed coco pith, coco chips, coco fibre and various mixtures. In addition, it sells coir growbags in a range of sizes, compressed discs for container-grown crops and products made to growers' specifications.
Another newcomer is Sirane, which will be showing its novel controlled-atmosphere packaging film claimed to extend the shelf life of fruit and vegetables by two to five days. The material is a clear natural polymer that differs from the usual polythene in being compostable and permeable to oxygen, carbon dioxide and water vapour as well as being condensation-free.
Sirane managing director Simon Balderson maintains that the atmosphere developing around fruit packed in the film reduces the fruit's degradation rate. He points out that retailers and consumers waste huge amounts of produce due to degradation and so if this can be minimised with the help of Sira-Flex Resolve film significant cost savings will be achieved.
Core Equipment will also be exhibiting for the first time. It will have grape and apple presses from two European specialist manufacturers on its stand. Scharfenberger is said to be the only company producing dual presses capable of allowing growers to make both red and sparkling white wine. It can modify its Europress according to growers' requirements.
Juice makers will also be able to see Kreuzmayr's apple press and its coil flash pasteuriser incorporating a temperature control system on the Core Equipment stand. "English wine producers are on the rise, and being able to choose a dual-press system provides them with the flexibility to make different wines without buying separate equipment," according to managing director Jonathan Chaplin.
For growers with frost protection facilities, EnviroMonitors is using Fruit Focus to launch a US electronic frost-warning system manufactured by Spectrum Technologies. Its Watchdog Cellular Alert system, which is lunchbox size, is placed in a strategic position in the crop. The grower sets it at the desired temperature and once this has been reached the device alerts the growers with a mobile phone call.
Alongside its new strawberry June bearer Vibrant, awarded the best new variety - edibles accolade at the 2012 Grower of the Year Awards, Meiosis will be showing two new primocane raspberry varieties bred by Advanced Berry Breeding in the Netherlands.
One of these is Imara, with firm fruit and excellent flavour and a shelf life claimed to give it very good consumer appeal. Its autumn harvest starts one week after Polka. The second newcomer, Kwell, produces attractive light orange-red berries that do not darken after picking. In early trials the fruit proved very large, averaging more than 5g. This trait is said to persist with double (spring) cropping. The variety has good flavour and is easy to pick with a harvest season similar to or slightly later than Polka.
John Deere will have a stand for the first time, manned by its regional dealer Burden Brothers Agri. They will be showing the narrow 5GV and 5GF models for wine and fruit growers respectively. These tractors are powered by 4.5 litre Tier III PowerTech M diesel engines and are equipped with an open centre hydraulic system and a 47 litres per minute tandem pump for quick implement reaction. An optional third pump is available for both models providing up to 80 litres/minute.
The cab layout of each machine has leftand righthand consoles for ease of use. The lining and air conditioner have been redesigned to give greater headroom and visibility. The cab has the added advantage of being sealed and pressurised for greater operator comfort and efficiency of the heating and cooling system.
Dutch company Beekenkamp, a regular exhibitor, will have two injection-moulded plastic containers for strawberry growers on its stand. One is the Fragola, a trough for those requiring extra substrate volume that allows better moisture control for fruit production. It can be used for tabletop production and can also be placed on gutters and low raised beds.
The other product is a 10-cell tray designed for propagators that the company claims will save more than 10 per cent in production space thanks to its unique arrangement of cells that takes up the same space as the nine cells of the tray it replaces.
"The trays guarantee the development of absolutely uniform plants," maintains sales representative Jerry Arkesteijn. "Thanks to their sloping sides they are easy to arrange in the cultivation area because they slot together like a giant jigsaw puzzle. The extra production per square metre results in (significant) savings in fertiliser and sprays."
Agrovista will also be showing plastic growing troughs, of 11-litre and 16-litre capacity, made by Bato Plastics for holding Botanicoir compressed dehydrated coir slabs. Once in place, water is added to the slabs to rehydrate them ready for planting. In addition, the company will display the new Bato Plastics raspberry tub that holds a Botanicoir dehydrated coir block.
Fruit marketer Norman Collett, one of the long-time exhibitors at Fruit Focus, will be launching its new website. It was developed by PR and graphic agency Zest as a user-friendly, easy-to-navigate, informative site that the company says is "an ideal platform for communication with both growers and consumers".
Another regular exhibitor, the Micron Group, will have a number of its low-volume controlled droplet sprayers on its stand. The company's marketing manager Ausra Landey has high praise for Fruit Focus: "Not only does it present an excellent opportunity to showcase our range, it is the perfect forum for us to obtain valuable customer feedback that could shape our future product development."
Growers will be given the opportunity to learn about a strawberry powdery mildew bio-fungicide, AQ10, that is being launched by Fargro. The company's technical director Dr Paul Sopp says it is another fungus that parasitises the pathogen. It is actually a living organism, available as a wettable powder in foil sachets.
"We see it as a partner for conventional chemistry that you would use earlier in the season - switching to AQ10 as you get close to harvest to provide control of powdery mildew over the picking season," adds Sopp. "Ideally, it is used as a preventive, applied at the first signs of the disease or when conditions are conducive to its development. It is compatible with all biologicals and has a zero harvest interval with no residue issues."
On Gripple's stand, growers will see the fencing and trellising specialist's latest innovation, the Dynamic. This is a small but strong corrosion-resistant adjustable clasp, which forms part of its anchoring system.
In use, the anchor wire, attached to the top of the end post of the vine or tree wire and post support system, hooks round the anchor hook, then round the base of the post. The loose end is then secured alongside the bottom wire with the Dynamic. This can be locked into position, tensioned and relocked without loss of tension.
Fruit Focus exhibitor listings
Exhibitor Stand no.
ACT Publishing 58
Agriculture & Horticulture
Development Board - Horticultural
Development Company 54
Agrovista (UK) 304
Aston Horticulture 62
Bato Plastics 66
Bayer CropScience 8
Becker Underwood 12
Beekenkamp Verpakkingen 202
Belchim Crop Protection 88
Berry Gardens 362
BPI Visqueen 208
Castlefield Products 18
Certis UK 258
Chlorpyrifos: Say NO to DRIFT 178
Claas UK 346
Cocogreen (UK) 98
Commercial Horticultural Association 84
Concordia YSV 78
Core Equipment 146
Delta-T Devices 56
Digi Europe 220
East Malling Research 42
Elite Tunnels 318
Environment Agency 100
Field Irrigation 316
Field Water 370
Frank P Matthews 76
Fresh Produce Journal 228
Fruitful Jobs 224
Go Plastic Pallets 86
Hadley Group 126
Hago FruitSafe 62
Hattingley Valley Vineyards 120
Haynes Agricultural 336
HOPS Labour Solutions 24
Hortech Solutions 350
Horticultural Coir 60
Horticulture Week 70
Hortifeeds Direct 82
ICA & STS 242
Irrigation Design & Sales (IDAS) 226
Itracon ba 26
Jiffy Products 42
John Deere 352
KAR UK 308
Kent Fruit Services 90
Koppert UK 200
Lamberhurst Engineering 322
Laurence Gould Partnership 92
Leeways Packaging Services 94
LS Systems 218
Mack Multiples 372
MeeGaa Substrates 48
Meteor Systems 344
Micron Group 356
Morisson Couderc 144
Mylnefield Research Services 50
NP Seymour 324
New Growing Systems 44
New Leaf Irrigation 360
NFU Mutual 176
Norman Collett 300
OCS Checkweighers 172
Omex Horticulture 182
Osprey Tunnels 334
Packaging Automation 4
Plant Care 212
Plant Solutions 6
Platipus Anchors 152
Plumpton College 128
Prayon (UK) 36
Priva UK 310
Pro Tech Marketing 358
Proseal UK 348
QTS Analytical 156
Richard Burton Specialist Machinery 330
Riococo UK 170
Royal British Legion Industries 216
Scorpion Engineering Construction 2
Sharp Interpack 368
Smurfit Kappa 122
South East Farmer 334
Spitalfields Market Tenants
Syngenta Bioline 166
T&B Containers 14
Vine Works 164
Vineyard Solutions 158
Vivai Fratelli Zanzi 194
VOEN Covering Systems 260
Wroot Water 234
Yara UK 312
Zickler A-M-Produkt 125
When: Wednesday 25 July, 9am to 5pm
Where: East Malling Research Centre, New Road, East Malling, Kent ME19 6BJ
Admission: £10. Use secure online booking system via website. Tickets will also be available to buy on the day. Admission fee includes Wine Skills seminar and workshops (must be booked in advance online). Children aged 15 and under may enter free.