ONGOING INPUT COST INCREASES SEEN ACROSS ALL SECTORS OF HORTICULTURE
Various external macroeconomic factors and world events have meant that grower’s input prices have risen sharply since March 2021. Brexit, Covid-19 and the continuing Ukrainian crisis have all contributed to a turbulent outlook when it comes to input costs associated with energy, labour, fertiliser, crop protection products, packaging and growth media.
Growers are often left to absorb the cost incurred by such a rapidly changing economic environment. The knock-on effects of rising input price inflation and supply of goods and labour force, make planning and managing crops and produce increasingly risky.
Through direct contact with primary horticultural producers, and from the available data, Teagasc have revised input costings for producers across each horticultural sector in Ireland for the 12 months up to March 2022, citing specific examples of factors influencing the rising cost of production. The full report can be found at the following link: https://www.teagasc.ie/publications/2022/horticulture- crop-input-price-inflation-2022.php.
The Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine has developed a support scheme for growers specifically impacted by the war in Ukraine. The scheme is open to glasshouse growers of high-wire tomato, cucumber, and peppers; and growers of mushrooms, field vegetables, and apples for the dessert, culinary and processing markets. ✽
NEW GROWING MEDIA RESEARCH OFFICER APPOINTED
Teagasc recently appointed Eoghan Corbett as Research Officer in the Horticulture Development Department at Ashtown, Dublin. Eoghan will be conducting research as part of the Beyond Peat project. The project aims to identify, characterise, and assess the agronomic performance of peat-alternative growth and casing materials across the five key sub- sectors of horticulture in Ireland.
This research will also encompass transformative processes and emerging technologies that can convert low-value waste, or side- stream materials of indigenous industries or land-management practices, into value-added growth media materials. Eoghan completed his PhD in analytical geochronology and geochemistry at Trinity College Dublin in 2020.
During this research, he has been involved in projects focussed on developing novel techniques used in the geochronological analysis of minerals, in addition to contributing to a greater understanding of the fundamental physicochemical characteristics of geo-materials. Eoghan is also an avid gardener and has worked in both landscaping and arboriculture. Added to this experience, his background in geo-material characterisation and analysis, will bring a new perspective to the challenges of developing peat- alternative growth media. ✽
MILDER WINTERS CAUSED BY CLIMATE CHANGE ARE IMPACTING SOME FRUIT PRODUCTION
This year, insufficient winter chilling is causing poor and uneven bud break in new raspberry canes. This is especially the case with new ‘long cane’, ‘Tulameen’, and ‘Glen Ample’ varieties, both grown and imported from the Netherlands. The vast majority of canes, used in commercial raspberry production in Ireland, are propagated in the Netherlands.
On some of the raspberry canes, the buds broke very poorly or didn’t break at all. It’s highly likely down to a lack of winter chilling. Even though the canes are put in a cold store after harvest in late November, they still need a certain amount of cold units before going into the freezer. If they don’t get enough chilling, you get uneven bud break and thus lower yields.
This phenomenon was recently discussed on a Teagasc webinar with Dr. Nikki Jennings (raspberry breeder) from the James Hutton Institute, in Scotland. She discussed how she is now trying to use less cold demanding varieties in her raspberry breeding programme. The issue is becoming more serious now, due to climate change.
The webinar can be found at the following link https://www.teagasc.ie/publications/2022/new-raspberry- varieties-from-the-scottish-raspberry- breeding-programme.php. ✽
CARBON FOOTPRINTS AND SUSTAINABILITY IN HORTICULTURE ENTERPRISES WEBINAR
Teagasc Horticulture Development Department held a webinar on March 31 2022. Two speakers provided talks on floriculture and food horticulture. Dr David Bek’s presentation ‘Meeting the Sustainability Challenge in Ornamental Horticulture’ focused on the drivers of sustainable reporting, including regulation and consumer sentiment, threats facing horticulture from climate change, and the forthcoming EU- recognized FloriPEFCR standards for cut flowers and potted plants, expected in 2023. The second speaker, Islam Abdel-Aziz, delivered a presentation on ‘Carbon Accounting in Horticulture and Opportunities for Mitigation’, highlighting the benefits of accounting for carbon, methodologies and standards, and typical hotspots in production. The webinar is available to view on the Teagasc horticulture events web-page.
Upcoming event: As part of the Sustainable Cut-flowers Project co-led by Dr Bek, a workshop for stakeholders from the floriculture industry is due to take place in Holland in September 2022. Further details will be available on the project webpage in mid-June 2022. For further details and updates contact: David.Bek@coventry.ac.uk ✽
TEAGASC HORTICULTURE ‘HEALTHY PEOPLE, HEALTHY PLANET’ EXHIBIT AT BLOOM 2022
Teagasc returned to Bloom this year with a significant increase in their presence that was very well received by the public and professional growers alike. The exhibit reflected on sustainability as a major theme in the horticulture sector. The Teagasc horticulture exhibit ‘Healthy People, Healthy Planet’ set out to inspire people and create awareness about Irish fruits and vegetables and their positive impact on personal health, in terms of consumption, and the positive climate impact in choosing fresh produce, plants and trees. The concept of personal health and a diet including fruit and vegetables was emphasised, while the sustainability credentials of fruit and vegetables were also to the fore. Fruit and vegetables have the smallest area of land use and the lowest greenhouse gas emissions per kilogram of food product. Speaking at the event, Director of Teagasc, Professor Frank O Mara reiterated Teagasc’s commitment to supporting sustainable food production systems. Prof O’Mara noted “We encourage and support growers and farmers to be sustainable from an economic, social and environmental perspective. The theme of the Teagasc stand at Bloom – ‘Healthy People, Healthy Planet’ reflects the importance of the food we eat, not just to our own wellbeing, but to the natural environment we live in.” ✽