Mechanical weeder to be revealed to growers at new plum centre open day

Novel mechanical weeders will be demonstrated to growers at the first Plum Demonstration Centre open day in Kent.

The event, which is funded by AHDB and hosted by NIAB EMR, will showcase the early results of a trial to demonstrate plums grown on new rootstocks.

Victoria grown on Wavit and five other promising rootstocks are included. Information such as soil health assessments, worm counts, comparative yields, pruning and labour costs will also be available in the training trial.

Two varieties bred by NIAB EMR and now included in the Plum Demonstration Centre will also be available to view.

An area has also been planted with 23 new varieties to demonstrate how the season can be extended from July to October.

The Plum Demonstration Centre was launched at Fruit Focus 2019 in July. Guests were given a short tour of the different training systems used and were able to sample some of the fruit from a new, very early plum selection.

The centre aims to establish best practice to ensure efficiency and consistency are achieved and resources are not wasted.

Scott Raffle, AHDB’s knowledge exchange manager, said: “The best way to help growers decide if they should adopt new technology or use a different growing system is to demonstrate it in the field.

I am confident the open day will provide growers with a platform to put this research into practice and have some interesting discussions.

“Two additional areas of the orchard will demonstrate a range of tree architecture for Victoria and an area under protection to demonstrate the differences between outdoor and protected cropping.

“It truly is research in practice, to help growers make future investment decisions.”

AHDB Tree Fruit Panel chairman Rob Saunders said: “This is the first opportunity growers will have to visit the Plum Demonstration Centre. NIAB EMR can accommodate a range of different growing systems and interventions and more importantly record the results.

“This will be a valuable resource shining a light into the opportunities that exist for this relatively neglected crop.”

The event is also an opportunity to hear about the results of other AHDB-funded orchard research, including earwig-safe spray programmes, best practice in Spotted Wing Drosphila control and soil management.

Those interested in attending can book places for the event by visiting: http://bit.ly/PlumDemonstrationCentreDay.