Horticulture Week Podcast: Marion Regan of Wimbledon tennis strawberry grower Hugh Lowe Farms

Marion Regan is daughter of the late Hugh Lowe owns and runs the Kent berry grower with her husband Jon Regan. She celebrates 25 years running the business this year.

Farming 750 hectares, Hugh Lowe's dedicates one fifth to soft fruit production and sell around 4,000 tonnes of strawberries per year. 

The grower is the sole supplier of strawberries to the British tennis tournament, sending 33 tonnes of strawberries to SW19 in 2019 during the two-week event. Wimbledon was, of course, called off in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic and Regan explains how she managed deal with the spare capacity.

Also faced with a significant labour shortages due coronavirus-related travel restrictions, Regan tells of how the British-based intake fared and how meeting labour requirements post-Brexit continues to pose difficulties.

Wimbledon 2021 event is back on  - albeit at 50% capacity - and Regan is looking forward to supplying a large number of strawberries again. She says it is difficult to quantify the uplift in sales the tournament brings, but TV coverage should boost interest again during the fortnight-long tournament this 28 June - 11 July.

Though there is rarely a summer glut of strawberries (as people generally assume) presenting growers with a yearly challenge to meet peak demand, production this year should be easier than usual, she says, because of the cold spring and subsequent later season.

Looking forward, Regan discusses LED lighting, photovoltaic panels and moves to become carbon net zero, as well as the future of R&D post-AHDB.

Hugh Lowe is trialling Driscolls varieties including 'Sophie' raspberries and 'Malling Ace' strawberries.

Podcast presenter: Horticulture Week editor Matthew Appleby
Producer: Horticulture Week digital content manager Christina Taylor

If you are interested in producing a podcast with Horticulture Week, contact matthew.appleby@haymarket.com or roisin.kennedy@haymarket.com.

Listener feedback - please email hortweek@haymarket.com with "Podcast" at the beginning of the subject line.

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