Dutch growers find solution to mosaic virus

Growing cucumbers is like walking on a tightrope, says Dutch grower Ron Peters. "One year you end up in the black, the next it will cost you a little, that's a well-known phenomenon." But he notes that once the mosaic virus sets in, making a profit will pretty much be a mission impossible. "Just figure: A lot less production, as much as 25 percent less, and of poor quality too. You need to place substrates several times, so that costs more too. Extra labor too, always when it's hot. An empty greenhouse for several days, no production. And I could go on and on. If you leave the substrate in place, it'll take some wizardry to keep a contamination in place, with tapes, a few mats and as a result: the virus gets everywhere."

The atmosphere in the Dutch cucumber sector is a lot more relaxed this year. Prices may not be too great, but it seems the mosaic virus can finally be combated, after years of problems. At least, that's what Ron Peters sees at growers who work with his protocol. The researcher published the road map for a clean cultivation last year. "Now that the Dutch growers are getting started with the final cultivation round, it's clear that they are able to deal with the problems," he notices. The growers indicate that the virus pressure is a lot lower than in previous years. "There's even a number of companies that are still entirely clean."

Peters' protocol comprises a number of actions to get and keep the greenhouse virus-free. Peters provides the exact actions at a fee. "For growers, it's a one-time investment. That way I try to earn back some of the development costs in order to make further research possible." Things are going well for the most part – although knowledge is being 'borrowed' here and there. "A shame," Peters thinks. "I had rated the average entrepreneur more highly, but oh well. So be it. We do see the added value of following the protocol exactly. Not just for the grower, but for the whole chain: from funder to supplier and consumer. You can be proud of your product in the knowledge that the cucumber will last for a few days."

Peters is now also deploying the protocol internationally. "The foreign clients who are working with the protocol, organic or traditional, are enthusiastic. They are happy with the on-the-spot support, in their language or with an interpreter. Of course I can't fly to Mexico to deliver the protocol, but for anything from five hectares and up - or even better, a cluster of companies or a cooperative wanting to do business - I or one of my colleagues will fly all over the world. This matter is just too important," he says. "And growers have a choice. Go forward, or go backwards even faster."

For more information:
Ron Peters Experimental Garden

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