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Dutch radish grower Ad Coolbergen:

"New greenhouse gives soil a chance to rest"

A new 2.3 hectare greenhouse is currently being built at Dutch radish grower Ad Coolbergen. This will expand his total acreage to 10 hectares. "We see opportunities in the radish market in the winter. In the summer we want to let the soil rest more", the grower says.

The construction of the new greenhouse for radish grower Ad Coolbergen is in full swing in the Dutch village Oude Tonge. Piling has already been driven into the ground and in the middle of august the first frame has been set up as well.

“We see the demand rising in winter. This has been down for a couple of years”, the grower says. The reason for this development is the buyers' desire to spread risk. “Italy is the market leader in winter, but the production over there can vary," Coolbergen explains. "We grow there as well and we don't want to compete with ourselves, but we do want to answer the markets' demand. Customers mostly go for Italian product and add to it with Dutch produce."

The tendency can be seen throughout all of the Netherlands, where the acreage of radish has slowly been growing again in recent years. “About ten years ago a lot of growers stopped – smaller all year round growers and opportunistic growers, who only grew in the spring for instance. There are less companies active in the radish cultivation, but the companies that are here have become bigger. In recent years you can see the area grow step by step.”

Summer rest
The situation on the radish market is different in the summer. "The market can be tighter then. There is a lot of growing in Germany and Poland around that time. You can get it just right, but there can also be too much product on the market." This is why Coolbergen opts not to be in full production then. "We want to give the cultivation more space. Sometimes you're going round in circles for three weeks and can continually harvest and sow - but we choose not to. We want to let the soil rest in between cultivations. This way we can give it more water, or sow green manure. We do this in Italy too and see the advantages of it."

Growing colder 
A last matter involved in the expansion is the possibility of growing at a colder temperature. “Growing with less energy is a general trend. In radish, we grow slower than some years ago, especially when it's cold. The gas costs are harder to control now." But saving money isn’t the only motivation for this. “We also see that there is no disadvantage in quality. I even think we might have been compromising the quality to grow faster. Now we grow at a colder temperature. You can be a week later, but it’s still better. And with the expansion we now have more space for this.”

Simple greenhouse
The piling for the construction has already been driven into the ground and this week the first frame has been set up in Oude Tonge as well. Sowing is planned for November 1 and before the soil has to be treated with organic dirt and steamed. This means the builders have to work quickly, but Coolbergen is full of faith. "The greenhouse is exactly the same as we have now. A lovely simple greenhouse, according to the builders," he laughs. Matters such as diffuse glass don't concern radish growers. "We tested diffuse foil in Italy. This means less direct rays on the ground and realises a lower soil temperature. That's not what you want! In the summer we do put down chalk. This takes the edge off the sun and stops the leaves from burning."

For more information:
Ad Coolbergen
Coolbergen BV
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