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Organic fruit production: Review of current practice and knowledge (OF0150)

Anon, (1999) Organic fruit production: Review of current practice and knowledge (OF0150). Henry Doubleday Research Association.

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Online at: http://www2.defra.gov.uk/research/Project_Data/More.asp?I=OF0150

Summary

This is the final report of Defra project OF0150
REASONS FOR STUDY AND KEY OBJECTIVES. There is a strong demand for organic fruit in the UK but the majority of this is met by imports. The main constraint on home production is a shortage of growers with sufficient acreage to supply wholesalers and supermarkets. The Organic Fruit Focus Group identified lack of technical information and research as a major barrier to growers considering conversion. The main aim of the present study was to gather technical information on organic growing techniques from growers, advisors and researchers from both the UK and abroad. Research priorities were also identified. Crops reviewed were apples, pears, strawberries, currants, gooseberries and raspberries.
MAIN FINDINGS.
• Research review. The most information was found on organic apple and strawberry production. Much of it was obtained by contacting researchers and advisors and is unrefereed literature e.g. conference proceedings, annual reports, advisory booklets and press articles. Relevant research from conventional systems was also reviewed.
• Advisory literature from abroad. The most useful literature was from FiBL in Switzerland, LBI in the Netherlands and The Danish Agricultural Advisory Centre.
• Research and development programmes abroad are producing relevant information of immediate use to UK growers.
• Drafts of two booklets have been written during the review by combining several sources of information, i.e. 'Organic apples - pest and disease management' and 'Organic strawberry production - a growers guide' (see appendix 2 & 3)
• Apples and pears. Technical problems are numerous but organic apple production can be profitable mainly because there is a market for organic class II fruit. However the conversion period is a major financial and technical barrier. Research priorities were identified, these included a) variety trials, b) scab control, c) studies on weed control/water/nutrients e.g. management of the orchard alleyways and the tree strip to encourage beneficial insects, manipulate nutrient supply and provide orchard access d) pest control e.g. optimising the use of floral strips to prevent pest epidemics and specific control methods for numerous major pests.
• Strawberries. These are considered easier to grow. Suitable systems for weed control have been developed. The main problems and research priorities are a) Botrytis, b) powdery mildew, c) soil borne diseases (Verticillium and Phytophthora), d) encouraging beneficials for pest control e) optimising nutrient supply.
• Raspberries, blackcurrants and gooseberries. Few growers with reasonable acreage were identified making it difficult to draw comprehensive conclusions. However, weed control is a major problem. Research priorities include management of the crop pathways and optimising the use of mulches. An important pest is raspberry beetle. Various other pests could become a problem if acreage is increased.
TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER. Four possible avenues of dissemination were identified.
• Collaboration with FiBL in Switzerland to produce adapted translations of grower booklets
• Production of booklets through the Soil Association's Technical Guides for Organic Food Production
• More immediate dissemination of 'less glossy' leaflets through the Organic Fruit Focus Group
• Seminar/workshop/farm walk collaborative events between HDRA, Soil Association, Elm Farm Research Centre, Organic Fruit Focus Group and East Malling Research Association. Two events are already planned.
ISSUES RELATED TO POLICY, ORGANIC STANDARDS AND PESTICIDE REGISTRATION
a)The three year conversion period, in both top fruit and cane and bush fruit, is a major financial barrier. b) The unpredictable nature of fruit production may mean that financial support after conversion could be required to increase grower confidence. c) Diversification of business enterprise for top fruit could be encouraged. d) Long term and achievable standards of fruit quality should be agreed between supermarkets and growers. e) Products which could be important for organic fruit production were identified for consideration by PSD and/or UKROFS. f) Strategies for the propagation of organic plants for all fruit crops need to be developed; this could be done within a European context for some crops where there are no licensed propagators in the UK. g) Some tentative evidence suggests that the measures used to encourage beneficial fauna for pest control in organic orchards and the absence of soil sterilants in organic soft fruit production are resulting in species diversification; this needs to be explored further.


EPrint Type:Report
Keywords:fruit, literature review, knowledge transfer, crop husbandry, policy, weeds, pests, diseases, soil nutrients, barriers to conversion, OF0150
Subjects: Crop husbandry > Post harvest management and techniques
Knowledge management > Education, extension and communication > Technology transfer
Crop husbandry > Production systems > Fruit and berries
Research affiliation: UK > Garden Organic (HDRA)
UK > Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
Deposited By: Defra, R&D Organic Programme
ID Code:8101
Deposited On:13 Apr 2006
Last Modified:12 Apr 2010 07:33
Document Language:English
Status:Published
Refereed:Not peer-reviewed

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