In late August, the production of snack cucumbers started at Edwin de Craen of Finca Royal from the Spanish village Don Benito – somewhere between Madrid and Lisbon. “At the beginning, the weather conditions were too hot. During the first week, the average day temperature was about 30 degrees Celsius. So we had a production after just eight or nine days after planting, which is exceptionally quick,” says Edwin.
“This resulted in huge volumes during the first few weeks. Now, we have had five days of rain, so the production has decreased a little bit,” Edwin continues. He has a greenhouse, made completely from glass, of about 10 hectares, with high wire cultivation for snack cucumbers, which is unique in Spain. Edwin wants to invest in a new development, which is a new sorting line that automatically weighs portions.”
Even though the Dutchman left for Spain to produce long cucumbers seven years ago, his production now consists of 100% mini cucumbers. “We started by growing snack cucumbers in a smaller part of our business, but right now we have the whole greenhouse full of mini cucumbers. In the spring, we will decide if we continue with producing solely snack cucumbers or if we will partly produce long cucumbers. Last spring, we grew long cucumbers in the spring, because the production would have been too high otherwise. Preferably, we would completely switch to 100% mini cucumbers.”
He does not expect that his Spanish colleagues will follow him with the high wire cultivation. “This system does not comply with the Spanish mentality. Using high wire cultivation means that everything has to be done exactly on time. Besides, a Spaniard thinks in costs and because of the higher labour costs, he would not like such a system. In our glass greenhouse, we harvest about 11 to 12 weeks from a plant. In Almeria, the same harvest takes just 6 weeks. It is an incredibly labour-intensive production. During the summer months, you have to harvest in the morning as well as the afternoon, to make sure that the cucumbers have the required weight of about 35 to 40 grams.”
The current market is a bit disappointing for the producer, who takes care of his own sales from Spain. “Last year there was high demand from several countries, but now it is not as high. Besides, we are not very dependent on the daily market, because we mainly supply clients in the Netherlands and in Germany. Because our production goes from September until July, we have some overlap with other producing countries. I expect that the demand for Spanish snack cucumbers will increase when other productions quit for the season.
For more information:
Edwin de Craen
Finca Boyal, S.L.
Poligono Industrial San Isidro
C/ Marinegra 19,
06400 Don Benito, Badajoz (Spain)