New brassica trials to help reduce food waste

New treatments are being tested by AHDB to help reduce the number of cabbages lost in storage from diseases caused by extreme wet weather. Up to 50% of the harvested crop can be lost.

The trials were set up by AHDB in response to concerns raised by the Brassica Growers Association. The aim is to find alternative storage treatments to prevent disease and the results of the trials will be shared with the industry in summer 2021.

The annual value of cabbages lost in storage in the UK due to disease can be around £4.5m.

James Rome, Agronomist at East of Scotland Growers, said: “In a wet harvest year like 2019, wastage levels can be in excess of 50% amongst long-term stored white cabbage due to Botrytis and Phytophthora.

“AHDB trials to find alternative storage treatments to reduce wastage are essential to the long term economic success of this crop in the UK.”

Dawn Teverson, AHDB Knowledge Exchange Manager said: “This research is part of our work with our Strategic Centre for Field Vegetables where, through discussion with growers, we set up trials in rapid response to critical issues facing the industry.

“We previously secured Serenade ASO, a bioprotectant, through our SCEPTREplus programme which is a useful product to prevent losses in storage for ‘normal’ seasons. But the extreme disease pressure last season means we now need to look at additional options for growers.”

The trials are taking place in Lincolnshire and ten different treatments are being tested. The crop went into storage in late November and will be assessed in April/May 2021.

Simon Jackson, Specialist Agronomist at the Allium & Brassica Centre, who is leading the trials, said: “The loss of iprodione in 2018 and metalaxyl-m in 2019 as post-harvest drenches proved devastating to the UK storage cabbage industry last season.

“The Allium & Brassica Centre are excited to be involved in research to look at alternative storage strategies. Previous research undertaken by us under the AHDB SCEPTREplus programme should lead to a new post-harvest treatment being approved in time for the autumn 2021 harvest.”

AHDB’s SCEPTREplus programme aims to support the approval of sustainable plant protection products and develop integrated pest management programmes for key pest, weeds and diseases on horticultural crops.

For further information about the trials and the Strategic Centres for Field Vegetables, visit ahdb.org.uk/farm-excellence/strategic-centre-for-field-vegetables-brassicas

In 2020, trials were conducted to look at how to prevent downy mildew in cauliflower, weed control, and the impact of bio-stimulants on growth at AHDB’s new Strategic Centre for Field Vegetables – Brassicas hosted by East of Scotland Growers in Fife, Scotland.

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