Lots of enthusiasm for Delphy Berry Plaza meeting

Strawberry growers are used to cultivating Elsanta, but in recent years, more new varieties are appearing. During the recent Berry Plaza meeting, various everbearer varieties, plant types and plant data were presented, all aimed at optimizing cultivation and maximizing yield. There was a lot of enthusiasm for the coronavirus edition of the event from growers and from companies that could finally network again at a physical event.

"For many this was their first physical event since the outbreak. It resulted in a lot of good feedback", organizer and strawberry researcher Bart Jongenelen of Delphy tells us a few days later. "I walked past the tests non-stop and even completely forgot about taking photos."

Bart and visitors last year in Egchel during the last edition of the Strawberry Demo Day

Knowledge transfer
This edition of the Berry Plaza meetings, started last year by Delphy to be able to communicate more often and better about tests in strawberry cultivation, was planned to take place in April in Egchel. It was to be the second edition, after the maximum number of sixty visitors was quickly reached in the autumn of 2019.

"For every Berry Plaza meeting, we set a maximum number of visitors. The aim is to transfer knowledge in a pleasant format. Quality takes precedence over quantity. It must remain a knowledge event. We do want to orient ourselves more internationally, especially in view of the new Delphy research location for soft fruit. The idea is for this to become the new hotspot for the soft fruit sector."

Increasingly more enthusiasm
Because of the great enthusiasm for the first edition, the capacity for the April edition was increased. "A month and a half before the event, I already had 85 applicants. Really a lot, there were even growers who registered even before the program was announced." However, the coronavirus pandemic made organizing impossible and the organization of the June meeting was soon stopped, also due to the virus woes.

On Wednesday, September 2, the delayed June edition was held after all. There were a hundred visitors. "I have kept the number of exhibitors and organizing staff as limited as possible in order to eventually give eighty growers and relatives of the sector the opportunity to attend. There were even a dozen Germans and a few Belgians. Also some UK visitors were expected, but quarantine measures prevented that."

Everbearer crop and cultivation optimization
Due to the location and the measures surrounding the coronavirus, the set-up was different from the Berry Plaza autumn meeting. "This time we had about fifty test fields, with the focus this year on other points. We invested heavily in everbearer tests and crop optimization, looking at plant types and plant data, for example. We also briefly explained the tests on the tray field with June-bearers, here we look at plant resilience and learning how to grow new varieties."

What is important for Bart and the other researchers in the tests, especially in view of the shifts in the varieties, is showing growers how to get the optimal result out of the varieties. "We emphatically do not compare varieties, but go for optimizing the cultivation of the individual varieties. The aim is to show how the grower can get the most out of them, so that he or she can choose for themselves and in their first real cultivation does not have to reinvent the wheel."

Berry Plaza meeting November 2020
In November, in a new edition of Berry Plaza, Bart hopes to give more depth to the tray fields. "At the moment it is still too early to say anything about those tests. We will be able to do that in November, because at that time we will be at the end of the cultivation. We also have a number of tests in the greenhouse in an everbearer crop."

During the September meeting, the everbearer trials had not yet been completed. “We want to come back to this at the International Soft Fruit Conference (ISFC) in January. Everbearers are not yet that big in the Netherlands, but elsewhere in Europe they are. That’s why we hope to meet international growers again."

For more information: 

Bart Jongenelen


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