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Edwin de Craen, Finca Boyal:

Unique in Spain: 10 hectares of high wire snack cukes

Dutch grower Edwin de Craen left for Spain six years ago to grow cucumbers at the Finca Boyal farm for Scherpenhuizen. After several years of high wire long cucumber cultivation, the complete 10 hectares greenhouse in Don Benito - between Madrid and Lisbon - is now full of snack cucumbers. Since last year Edwin has been doing sales himself, under the banner of Scherpenhuizen.

Until two years ago, Edwin grew only long cucumbers, after which Dutch snack cucumber grower Ad Verhoeven asked if he could fill in the winter season from Spain. "This collaboration is perfect. If the Dutch supply subsides, we slowly start production and when we are off the market, Ad is harvesting. This way we can guarantee a constant, year-round supply. We started growing snack cucumbers at one-sixth of the company, but now the entire greenhouse is full. In spring we will look at continuing with only snack cucumbers or possibly partly growing long cucumbers."

Big parties getting into snack cucumbers
According to the Dutch grower in Spain the potential for the product is adequate. "There is demand from all sides. A German supermarket is currently taking a large portion of the supply, but demand is rising every year. This market will continue to grow. Snack cucumbers have a unique bite and also sits well with children. In Spain the cultivation of snack cucumbers is quite big, a number of large parties like Unica and La Palma have entered in a big way, but there is still room for expansion."

Edwin: "In terms of production the current season started well and the harvest has been well above forecasts for the last three weeks. Due to the high production the prices of all greenhouse vegetables in Spain have been under pressure. Like in the Netherlands it has also been extremely hot here. Because of this the fruit hasn’t set properly and in a few weeks production is expected to be significantly lower in the rest of Spain. We can continue to produce simply because we have a heated Dutch greenhouse."

As the only high wire grower in Spain, Finca Boyal is certainly a unique company. "I started here with the idea to grow in the Dutch way but had to rethink this. You face entirely different day lengths and sun intensity and cultivation needs to be adapted accordingly. The growth rate is much higher here due to all the light and the higher temperature. The disadvantage is that we require more labor. The big advantage is the quality of the fruit. We measure a considerably higher dry matter content. "

Spanish mentality
Edwin doesn’t expect Spanish growers to follow. "We prune plants at one or two fruits. A Spaniard isn’t used to this. In our glasshouse we harvest about eleven, twelve weeks of a crop. In Almeria cultivation takes about six weeks. It is a very labor-intensive cultivation. In the summer you harvest in the morning and afternoon, so the cucumbers can meet the required weight of 35 to 40 grams. This system does not suit the Spanish mentality. In high wire cultivation everything should happen right on time. In addition, a Spaniard thinks in costs and because of the higher labor costs, he won’t get into this type of cultivation."

Initially Edwin was in the Netherlands every other weekend, now the grower is well-assimilated and also has a Spanish girlfriend. "Living and working in Spain suits me fine. I still regularly visit family and friends in the Netherlands, but my future is here!"

For more information:
Edwin de Craen
Finca Boyal, S.L.
Poligono Industrial San Isidro
C/ Marinegra 19,
06400 Don Benito, Badajoz
Tel: 0034662165128
[email protected]