Both high wire and traditional growers now using ringing method
Cucumbers are grown on more than 600 hectares in the Netherlands. In most cases, the growing method the “traditional cucumber method”, in comparison with the more modern “high wire cucumber method”.
Dirk-Jan Haas from DJ-Products and Rino Kaljauw
The main difference is in the way in which the cucumber plants are conducted. In the traditional method, the twine is fixed and the plants grow only to the upper part of the twine, which is around 2 meters high. When the plants reach the horizontal wire, they are topped, or sometimes they keep on growing down a little bit more, depending on the duration of the season.
In this way, it is possible to grow 3 or even 4 crops in one year. The labor cost is lower than in high wire cucumbers method, but sometimes getting the best quality of the product is not so easy.
High wire cucumber method
That is in fact one of the main advantages of the high wire system. In this case, the crop is conducted like the tomatoes, with a twine hook hanged from a high wire situated at 4 or 5 meters above the ground. When the plant grows up to the top, the twine is lowered, allowing the plant to keep on growing.
In the Netherlands with this method, 2 crops are planted every year. The first crop at the beginning of the year and the second one at the beginning of the summer. There is a higher labor cost but on the other hand the quality of the fruits is higher.
Young cucumber plants tied with the metallic ring of the Tom System
The Agrifast Tom System has been already been used for 4 seasons in the Netherlands to tie tomatoes, and for 2 years for high wire cucumbers. Currently, the Tom System is being used on 25% of the high wire cucumber growers in the Netherlands, and more are expected to join the system for 2016 season.
To see how the Tom System works in Holland in high wire cucumbers, see this video
But in 2015, Rino Kaljauw, a traditional cucumber grower located in Sint Annaland in Zeeland, contacted Agrifast and DJ Products (distributor of the Agrifast Tom System in the Netherlands) to ask about the possibility of using the tool to tie his cucumber plants. He has in total 7 hectares of greenhouses.
He had too many broken heads when twisting the plants, so he thought the Tom System could help his crop. There was no previous experience in traditional cucumbers, but Dirk-Jan Haas from DJ Products' answer was clear: “let's try it!”.
Working with the Tom System is first done walking and when the plant grows, the workers use the electric trolleys
It takes only 3 weeks to grow the plant after transplanting until it reaches the wire, and in that time around 7 metal rings are used to tie the plant. “This season the cucumber prices are better than during the last years, but anyway we are always looking for new technologies to reduce labor costs. And definitely the Tom System can help us,” admits Rino Kaljauw.
“Especially when we plant the new crop in summer time, it grows so fast, than it is very difficult to twist it along the twine. Besides, when it is too hot at midday, it is not possible to twist the plants because it is very easy to damage them, increasing the stress the plant is suffering, as the stem is strangled by the twine and makes it more difficult to transport the water and nutrients from the roots."
Just after transplanting the new young cucumber plants, there is a high labor demand to tie the crop
There comes the second advantage of the Tom System. “Clipping with the tool is not only faster, but it also allows us to work during the hottest hours of the day, as the plant does not suffer stress anymore,” states Mr Kaljauw.
For autumn several colleagues of Mr. Kaljauw who grow traditional cucumbers and autumn tomatoes are going to use also the Tom System. “For us, our customers are our best sales people,” explains Dirk Jan Haas. “A satisfied client will always help you when he talks to other colleagues. We just have to help them solve their problems and meet their needs.”
For 2016, more traditional cucumber growers are expected to switch to the high wire growing method, but whatever the system is, in both cases they can profit from the advantages of the Agrifast Tom System. “Now we just expect to keep on having good cucumber prices this autumn!” hopes Rino Kaljauw.