UK: GeeVee's sweetpoint peppers benefit from diffuse light
John’s parents started Gee Vee Enterprises in 1997 in Harlow in the Lea Valley, Essex, UK. Initially they grew chrysanthemums but after three years they switched to sweet peppers. Meanwhile the greenhouses have expanded to three hectares and John Cappalonga is at the helm.
“Initially we only grew blocky peppers but four years ago we extended the assortment,” he says. “Now we also grow snack peppers (baby peppers) and sweetpoint peppers, a half hectare of each.”
The snacks are quite hardy but the sweetpoints are a more difficult crop. They grow fast and they have a thin skin. That makes them particularly susceptible to quality problems if the greenhouse climate is not ideal. “Previously we used a general shading paint but that was not suitable for this type of fruit. You remove too much light. During the HortiContact days in Gorinchem, the Netherlands, I visited the Mardenkro stand and heard about the possibilities of ReduFuse. Since then we’ve been using this coating. It’s the best one on the market,” he says.
“ReduFuse makes the light diffuse, but the amount of light remains intact. Another advantage is that the coating is completely transparent when it is wet. So when it’s grey and miserable outside you still get enough light inside,” he explains. Diffuse light penetrates deeper into the crop so that the older leaves too can fully take part in photosynthesis. Because there are no light flecks under ReduFuse, the crop becomes less quickly stressed.
More comfortable climate
Cappalonga hires a contractor to apply the coating in April using a machine (14 buckets per hectare). It is removed in September. “The greenhouse climate has improved and you notice that the crop is less stressed. Average fruit quality is much better and we harvest more Class 1 fruits. In addition it’s more comfortable for us to work in the greenhouse,” says the grower. He no longer uses a screen for the sweetpoint peppers during the day. He only closes it at night to save energy.
English magazines write very little about coatings, he says. He occasionally gets questions from colleagues about his experiences and a standard part of the conversation is always about the price. “It’s not the cheapest product,” he tells them. “But it is certainly worth the money.”
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