Good crop management is key to producing healthy crops of good quality fruit. For the grower, important decision-making processes start well before the crop is even planted- what fruit type should I grow? What variety should I grow? Where should I get my plants from? What crop system should I use? During these early planning stages, members of the ASF and Angus Growers technical teams are on hand to discuss plans and to ensure our growers grow the crops and varieties which perform well for them in the field but also in the increasingly competitive soft fruit market. ASF & Angus Growers worked together to offer a complete service to growers, beginning with the development of cropping and labour plans based on the market requirements and grower’s business objectives.
Throughout the life of a crop, there are a host of key elements which must be continuously monitored and managed to ensure that crops are strong and healthy, producing the best quality fruit. Angus Growers in-house agronomy team procure plants, supply inputs and regularly walk crops, advising on pesticide applications and crop nutrition, and ensure all growing practices comply with current retailer requirements. This service is provided by fully qualified agronomists who are members of the professional register and regularly attend industry seminars and meetings to ensure that in-house knowledge remains current. To ensure careful monitoring of fruit quality, ASF and Angus Growers QA teams check grower’s fruit daily and work to optimise their market potential. During regular crop visits, the agronomy team keep a close eye on fruit quality throughout the production process and feedback any quality concerns back to the QA and packhouse teams- maintaining this good communication between the agronomy and QA teams is the key to providing a fully joined up process to the growers.
There is a strong R&D element to the ASF technical team. In addition to our dedicated trial site, there are various on-farm trials ongoing throughout the season trialling new selections from the ASF programme, as well as collaborations with other breeding programmes from all over the world. This enables our growers to make educated decisions on their cropping plans, and ensure that they grow varieties best suited to their businesses. We also work closely with crop protection product manufacturers and suppliers to ensure that any new products coming on to the market are trialled and recommended to our growers as soon as possible.
Technology transfer is actively encouraged throughout the grower group and technical team to increase group knowledge and awareness of products, as well as development of key crop production systems and practices. We are currently evaluating the performance of key development crops, such as blackberries and blueberries, through a series of grower surveys and working group discussions with industry experts.