It is no longer realistic or economic to grow strawberries in the UK climate to the standards of reliability and quality demanded by customers without tunnel protection.. more
UK soft fruit :
The UK soft fruit industry is a rare British Agriculture success story.
Total berry sales in the UK in 2003 were £310m and this year estimated to be £350m, rising to anticipated sales of £400m by 2006. Sales are progressing on average at plus 20% each year. This is a tremendous story with 70% of these annual sales being grown here in the UK.
Fifteen years ago this industry was simply a small 6 to 8 week season with foreign imported fruit dominating our market. Significant steps have been made in co-operative marketing, new varieties and cultural practice, but without doubt the most influential reason for the growth and establishment of this industry has been the creation of temporary field scale tunnels.
Tunnels have been great – low cost, moveable from field to field, closable for early and late season production and fully vent able for mid season production.
The proposal for a local code of practice on the use of polytunnels seems sensible and could, potentially, be a helpful initiative.
We as consumers can have better British soft fruit for longer than ever before. We now can enjoy the pleasure of eating British berries for approx 26 weeks, as opposed to only 5-6 weeks of season, which was the conventional period of cropping 20 years ago.
In addition there are also many other positive actions, growers can take to ensure tunnels are built and managed sensitively with neighbours... more
Firstly, it is important to understand that the planning jurisdiction for poly tunnels is not a national issue but one that is determined at county planning level. On this basis it is important that growers work positively with their local planners if concerns are raised ... more
Tunnels have been great – low cost, moveable from field to field, closable for early and late season production and fully vent able for mid season production. They have also nearly eliminated most wet weather type diseases, significantly reduced pesticide use and enabled success with biological controls and generated huge full-time and seasonal employment. They are 100% recyclable, demanded by the supermarkets for providing continuity of supply and have created this one-third of a billion £ industry.
However, as crucial as they are to horticulture, they do create a visual impact on the landscape and we must work hard with neighbours and local councils to make then work for all concerned.
This website is designed to ensure you enjoy tunnel success.