When an injury forced Peter Spinks to give up his dairy farm, he decided to look for something less labour intensive and bought himself a couple of glasshouses to grow tomatoes. Twenty two years later he now manages one of New Zealand’s largest cucumber glasshouse operations, Under Glass Bombay, and is happy to admit he was mistaken thinking it would be the less laborious option!
Under Glass is the growing part of NZ Hothouse, and according to Peter, grows an average of around 3.5 hectares of cucumbers at any one time. “We are growing all telegraph cucumbers now. We did venture into Lebanese and short greens in the early days but the market needs have changed. Now short cucumbers only account for about five per cent of the market so for the past two and a half years we have been solely growing ‘teles’.”
Peter says he has found there are quite a few advantages to growing cucumbers over tomatoes. “If you run into a problem with cucumbers, the life of the crop is 3–4 months, whereas with tomatoes you have to fight it out for the full twelve months,” Peter noted.
“Two things I’ve learned about cucumbers over the years are; firstly, don’t turn your back on them and secondly, don’t turn the light off and go to sleep at night.”
“They are very fickle. They are the first plants to show any signs of root disease and if you are not on your game, you can lose the crop pretty fast.” One cucumber NZ Hot House has had great success growing recently is SV0091CE. “We were very happy with the process we saw for SV0091CE,” Peter said.
“Initially we were looking for a winter variety with a strong root system. After checking out a few plants, we started by trialling half a row and after experiencing great results we jumped straight to a full row. It was pretty evident after the first crop that this was going to be a winner for us.”
“Normally after twelve months we would go for a single bay but we have decided to go for half a module. We would have liked to have gone all SV0091CE if there was more seed available,” Peter said.
“Market-wise SV0091CE ticks all the boxes. Production-wise, at this point we see it lifting production significantly.”
“So far we have trialled the product in autumn, winter and early spring. We will continue trialling but I wouldn’t’ be surprised if it could go the full twelve months,” Peter said.
Peter Spinks is supplied SV0091CE through Steve Dickson at Premier Seeds. As a De Ruiter distributor, the team at Premier Seeds go through an extensive trial proves to evaluate a variety to ensure its success for the customer.
According to Steve Dickson, “I think we are unique in both Australia and New Zealand in the depth of trialling we undertake, to learn all we can about a variety before we decide to introduce it commercially to the market.”
“This way we ensure no costly mistakes are made and the growers can confidently grow our varieties knowing the amount of background work we have done,” Steve said.
Source: LivingNews, De Ruiter Seeds.