Giving the cut flower grower greater control over the growing environment through hydroponic production systems is something the National Cut Flower Centre at Holbeach St Johns will be investigating next year.
That will form part of the programme of work carried out at the Rookery Farm site, an independent cut flower trial centre run and managed by the industry with funding from the HDC (Horticultural Development Company) to conduct trials to solve problems on mainstream flower crops and to investigate potential new crops.
Over 80 people attended the centre’s annual open day, many of them local growers who started the day by looking at trials on column stocks on a member’s holding before going on to see a variety on trials taking place at the centre.
The centre was recently awarded joint funding from the HDC Protected Ornamentals and Bulbs and Outdoor Flowers panels for a further five years and project manager Lyndon Mason said their remit was evolving to include bulb crops. He added that a Cut Flower Association and knowledge hub for cut flower growers was being developed.
The centre’s management group will meet again in October to determine the programme of work for 2014, with a degree of new product development planned alongside trials to find a replacement for the herbicide Ronstar, which will be unavailable to growers after 2015.