"The ageing of cucumber starts on the plant. This means that the shorter amount of time the cucumber is on the plant, the longer its shelf life after harvest is." This is one of the things that Floris van der Linden of Green Diamonds has learned from seven years of high wire cultivation. This knowledge is an essential part of the growers' union's strategy. "This way you can make arrangements with buyers. Customers should never be disappointed when buying our cucumbers."

All the produce leaves in their own brand

More uniform quality
Floris van der Linden started the high wire cultivation with two other cucumber growers seven years ago. The choice was mainly influenced by the better an more uniform quality. "When you're growing traditionally it's difficult to harvest everything in the right sorting and super quality. We wanted to raise the percentage of the 35+ and 40+ sortings and be able to give a continual quality guarantee." Convinced that there is a market for this, the growers' union Green Diamonds was founded. The growers discuss the cultivation a lot and this results in new insights. The growers aim to not only raise the production per m2, but also to shorten the growing out rate of the cucumber.

Ageing on the plant
"A lot of people don't know this, but the cucumber starts to age on the plant. As soon as the flower has stopped blossoming, this process starts. The shorter the length of time the cucumber is on the plant, the longer it can be stored in the shop and with the consumer," says Van der Linden. Science has known this for a while, and it is the case for other crops too. This is why the growing out period of the cucumbers is kept as short as possible by Green Diamond grower through climate control, choice of variety and by thinning the plant. Labels are used to keep track of when the flower is finished and when the harvest is. "We strive not only for uniformity in the appearance of a cucumber, but also for the inside of it. In a traditional cultivation a plant will choose to which fruit the energy goes. There might be ten fruits of the same size on the plant, but you don't know whether the plant has taken 18 or 24 days to get them that size. Green Diamond products are different. "Cucumbers harvest at this time of year all have the same growing out rate of just 19 days. In the summer we even get it down to 12!"

"Depending on the time of year we guarantee a shelf life of between 11 and 18 days after harvest. We don't do it to speculate about price, or to let customers mess around with it, but to improve the shelf life for the consumer. They should never be disappointed by our cucumbers," says Van der Linden. "A lot of growers are wary of a shelf life guarantee, but we are very clear about it and can make arrangements with our customers."

The cucumber's route - during the high wire cultivation the blooms are kept a close eye on

Everything brand name
The cucumber market has had some difficult years. Yet Green Diamonds grower will not be convinced to lower their cost price. "As a result of low budget cultivation you can see that product on the market has become more unreliable and the quality is diverse. We believe that everyone is looking for quality - and we believe they are willing to pay for it." At Green Diamonds it is about more than the quality of the cucumber. "We only sell under our own brand and we hope that the people we do business with, the trader, exporters and service providers want to be our ambassadors. By maintaining direct lines we don't have multiple traders on one final customer. We want them to enjoy working with us - because we are reliable, there is never bother with the product, the invoices and deliveries are always right." Van der Linden is not afraid of an increase in high wire cultivation and competition. On the contrary, he sees it as an opportunity for the Dutch cucumber. "Choices are being made for low budget cultivation - understandable due to the years of losses. But I believe it will cause us to lose more territory to Spain. With high wire cultivation you're going for 100% quality. This could strengthen our position as a cucumber producer in Europe."

For sales information:
DOOR Partners
Mariƫtte van der Linden
0031 6-51415721

For more information about cultivation method, varieties, quality control etc, contact:
Floris van der Linden
0031 6-46055005