If greenhouse vegetable growers decide to leave their greenhouses empty (longer), then the propagators of tomato, cucumber, and bell pepper plants feel the consequences. They are getting many questions from growers about what is possible in terms of shifting, and there have even been reports of cancellations and dumping of newly grown young plants.
The latter is what Alexander Formsma, policy specialist for energy and climate at Glastuinbouw Nederland, told the Dutch newspaper Financieel Dagblad in one of his many interviews with regional and national media. "The garbage can is currently the industry's biggest customer. Many growers simply do not dare to fill their greenhouses with new plants."
Alexander said that such reports have indeed reached him. "A colleague spoke to propagators who needed to dump. It remains difficult to form an overall picture of the situation. Illuminated, energy-intensive crops are now hit the most, but there are also entrepreneurs who are doing well because they are using a different energy input, for example."
Moment of choice
The propagators the editors of our Dutch newsletter GroentenNieuws spoke last week told they have not dumped anything. It does appear, however, that due to the great uncertainty that exists among growers, nurseries are being bombarded with questions about the possibilities for shifting. One of the nurseries reported the sowing of bell peppers is usually done in the next two to three weeks. "So now is the moment of choice for the growers, but there is great uncertainty."
This great uncertainty that growers experience is annoying to see. Dumping is out of the question for the company, but they do know that this idea is being considered in the sector. "It also makes a difference whether you have to dump a just-seeded plant or an almost-bred plant. These are not fun times."
Falling gas price
The recent decrease in the longer-term gas prices is giving some hope. The daily price is not falling (yet). Alexander says that "it's a reaction to Russian President Putin's decision to open the gas tap a little more."
That message has also reached the growers, who are constantly in touch with both customers and advisors, for example, to slightly adjust the delivery date of plants.
Hans van Herk of Propagation Solutions, which provides cultivation advice to breeding companies nationally and internationally, said that "I know of a company in the UK that had to dump plants that were almost ready for delivery because the grower feared they would not be able to afford the crop with current energy prices. The supermarket refused to pay a higher price for the grown product."
Hans expects delays of weeks or even of one or two months to become common. "While the peak in the propagation of fruiting vegetable plants in winter is normally reached before Christmas, for some this will now be delayed to January, and for some even to February."
In other words, "maximum flexibility" is expected from nurseries. We will all have to get through this together."