NZ tomato growers offered consultation opportunity with international crop expert Frank Florus.
Tomato growers in New Zealand are being offered the rare opportunity of an individual or group consultation with internationally-renowned ‘tomato guru’ Frank Florus.
Mr Florus, one of Europe’s leading crop consultants, is part of an expert six-strong team that provides consultancy for over 1200ha of tomatoes in Belgium, Holland, France, Switzerland, the UK and Canada.
He will be in New Zealand as a keynote speaker at the Horticulture New Zealand conference in July and Tomatoes New Zealand is delighted that he has also agreed to provide half day consultations/workshops to New Zealand growers.
Helen Barnes, Business Manager for Tomatoes NZ, said: “This is very rare opportunity for New Zealand growers to benefit first hand from the expertise of one of the most highly regarded figures in the industry.
“Mr Florus has a vast breadth of knowledge and experience. As well as pinpointing individual problems with crops or growing operations, he will be able to offer solutions, strategies and advice in a wide range of areas.
“Individual growers can book Mr Florus for a half-day individual consultation or a number of growers could get together for a half day group workshop and share the cost. We have already had a number of inquiries and once we know how many people would like to take part then I will draw up the programme.
“Consultations will be available in the greater Auckland/Waikato region for the two days before the conference – which could be a good opportunity for provincial growers who are coming to Auckland for conference - and in the South Island for the two days after.”
Mr Florus began his career in research before moving into teaching horticulture and then into crop consultancy, launching his own practice 15 years ago. He has visited New Zealand on a number of occasions and said he was looking forward to returning and meeting with growers.
He will speak on a range of issues at the conference including new technology and best practice to drive higher yields without impacting on quality, with a particular emphasis on spring growing.
“One of the reasons I enjoy my work so much is because of the kind of people tomato growers are,” he said. “Wherever I go in the world I find that growers are passionate about their product .”
Mr Florus largely divides his time between Belgium and Holland, where growers grow more tomato fruit per hectare than anywhere else in the world. He advises on 230ha including 90ha under assimilation lamps.
“Assimilation lamps are a very effective method for growing during the winter so countries don’t have to rely on imported tomatoes from Mediterranean countries.
“However, it also demands a lot of energy which has become one of the biggest challenges because fuel costs are so high.
“Over the past two years I have been seeing crops which are limited by energy input because people are trying to save money. I have been helping growers find solutions, such as using energy screens and other strategies to build up a good fruit load.”
Mr Florus said there is now increasing interest in ‘The New Way of Growing’ technique.
Developed in Holland, this significantly less energy through the horticulturalist using the active greenhouse climate to the best extent or by using eco climate converter technology to dehumidify air and recover energy from condensation.
“This has been around for four or five years but interest has really grown over the past two years and more large growers are starting to trial it,” said Mr Florus. “It is still early days but the signs are positive.”
Mr Florus’s approach is very much to work with them to find solutions and improve their crops.
“The good consultant doesn’t go into a greenhouse and take over. You need to listen to the grower and work with them to help them understand why they need to apply certain strategies.
“My definition of a good consultant is one who the better they do the job the more questions the grower asks.”
Mr Florus said that he had seen major developments in the New Zealand industry during his visits over the past 20 years.
“New Zealand’s tomato industry has a good approach towards the market and the supplier. They have a good idea how respond to the big stores and how to work together with them and growers need to continue to work together to ensure collective strength.”
To download a flyer about the consultation opportunity, click here.
For further details about the consultancy programme or to register interest call Helen on 04 470 5666.
Frank will also be giving a presentation at the TomatoesNZ AGM and Conference, click here for more information.