A Plum Demonstration Centre in Kent will now receive funding from AHDB to demonstrate best practice and increase the use of new technology by tree fruit growers, it has been announced.
Growers will be able to view the results of the Innovate UK plum project, and the ready-made centre will now also support the development and demonstration of other new technology to extend the growing season and the sustainability of tree fruits.
Located in East Malling, the centre was established by horticultural research instituter NIAB EMR, and AHDB’s funding will contribute to its further development and the running of the centre.
AHDB knowledge exchange manager Scott Raffle said: “This new Plum Demonstration Centre offers growers the opportunity to see the results of a number of research projects in practice, such as soil management, weed control, organic mulches, SWD [spotted wing drosophila] control and earwig-safe spray programmes.
“Enabling growers to see the results of research in practice means they can have confidence to invest in new technologies and innovation. This will help them to increase the length of their growing season and make their produce more sustainable, through an increasingly challenging period.”
The orchard has been planted by NIAB EMR as part of an Innovate UK research project on the ‘sustainable increase of UK plum production’ and will include plots to demonstrate how to extend the growing season and improve plum profitability in the UK.
In addition, three other orchards have been planted by commercial plum growers in Kent to showcase different plum varieties: AC Hulme & Sons planted a number of early fruiting varieties; SW Highwood planted late varieties; and GH Dean established a new plantation of varieties with high yield and quality potential.
There are also plans to seek support from machinery manufacturers to demonstrate a wide range of cultural techniques such as mechanised weed control and flower/fruitlet thinning.
Results from the IUK project are available to the industry in a new Plum Best Practice Guide on NIAB EMR’s website.
The Fruit Focus trade event on 17 July will give growers an opportunity to view the Plum Demonstration Centre.