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Innovative technology enables year-round production

UK: Home grown strawberries available this Christmas

UK grower Wallings Nursery started trialling LED lighting in their greenhouses in Lawford three years ago, now English strawberries can now be enjoyed by UK consumers year-round.

The fruit used to be only available from late May until July. The use of greenhouses extended the season but by November, strawberry lovers had to rely on imports from Egypt, Morocco or Spain.

For the first time, they will be on sale at Sainsbury's in Stanway for festive indulgence.

Tony Vallance, ergonomy manager at Mack Produce, which part owns the nursery, said Wallings produces 400 tonnes of strawberries a year.

It has two greenhouses which cover three hectares and a further two hectares of polytunnels.

He said: "At the height of the season in May, the nursery produces about 45 tonnes of strawberries a week.

"We normally produce the strawberry crop in greenhouses in the autumn but they come to an end in November.

"With this trial, we have brought LED lights in to keep the plants growing an extra three or four weeks."

The LED lights were installed as part of an agricultural research and development grant which Sainsbury’s awarded to Wallings Nursery three years ago to investigate the opportunities for extending the glasshouse season using the lighting technology.

It is also eco friendly, cutting down on heating emissions and food miles.

Mr Vallance said: "This is the first time anyone has tried using LED lights.

"Some greenhouses have used heat lamps but they use a lot of electricity.

"We only have a few hundred kilos at this time of year which we sell exclusively to Sainsbury's but it means people can enjoy English strawberries at Christmas."


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