zondag, 18 september 2016

Dutch cucumber grower proves his mosaic protocol

While the mosaic virus is rearing its head everywhere in the most of the cucumber greenhouses again, Dutch growers in the region around Erica can calmly look forward to the summer. The whole region is mosaic free, according to Ron Peters. "That’s about 40 hectares."


From small scale to large scale

Grower Ron Peters is delighted. Last year he was boasting about the mosaic virus protocol he developed with DLV Plant. "We proved it on a small scale then. Now it’s clear that it also works on a large scale," he says. All cucumber growers in the Erica region are mosaic virus free. "Not everyone was suffering from the virus. The growers that were clean, bought resources to stay clean," he honestly says. "But there were also companies that were 100% black. And these are completely virus free." In total there are about 40 hectares of cucumber crop. There is only one greenhouse where the virus can still be found. This is Peters' own test greenhouse - where he performs experiments. "The virus turns out not to be a problem. As long as you know how to handle it."

Virus attack

Outside the region there are also growers who have acquired the protocol from Peters. In a number of them the virus has struck anyway. "The companies have stayed clean longer but sometimes still got problems. We investigated the cases. Everywhere we see that a step of our protocol was missed or wasn’t properly executed." It appears to be a challenge for growers to precisely follow the entire protocol. "Growers are 100% willing, so are managers. However, companies are stuck in old patterns: They want to carry on like they’ve  always done. Now they have to handle things differently. That takes some adjustment. Then they’ll be clean next year as well."


Selling knowledge

Peters developed the protocol in recent years. To recover his development costs and effectively provide support to growers, he wanted to sell the protocol to Dutch horticulture in one go last year for 14 cents/m2. That was not successful. Since then Peters has been offering the protocol to individual growers for the same price. He knows there is some resistance. "No problem - using it is not a requirement." He’s also not bothered by stories of growers working with portions or other variants of the protocol. "Those aren’t complete. If you have four wheels but no steering wheel, you can’t drive."


According to Peters, the cost of executing the protocol is similar to that of a standard crop rotation. "Everyone of course has their own method, but the basic cost of the protocol on average is as much as what it usually costs." And according to Peters this is offset by the gain in the chain. The virus affects taste and durability. "While clean, you produce better and deliver better quality. The virus is bad for the grower and bad for the chain."