According to Defra’s June Consensus, there are more than 14,000 ha devoted to fruit and vegetables in the UK.
- In 2015, mushrooms accounted for the largest value within vegetable production (£154 million), followed by lettuce (£145 million), carrots (£124 million), onions (£106 million) and cabbages (£72 million).
- In the UK, the vegetable production is centered in the West Midlands, Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire, however there are also important areas of production elsewhere, especially where soil conditions are suitable for root crops.
- Yield is very important, however quality is equally important, as retailers want produce that is unblemished and of good visual appearance.
There is increasing pressure for effective pest, weed and disease control against a background of higher legislative pressure that is diminishing the number of active ingredients available to growers.
BASF is investing in integrated approaches to crop protection in these markets including the use of biological control.
Insect pests: What to look out for
The main insect pest in vegetables are aphids and caterpillars. Main species specifically noted are:
- Cabbage white butterflies
- Diamond-back moth
- Mealy cabbage aphid
- White flies
These pests can cause damage to the vegetables, directly reducing yield and marketability.
Pyrethroid insecticides are the main group of pesticides used. A resistance strategy is urgently needed as resistance to this group has become widespread.
Diseases in vegetables
In Brassicas, the main diseases are Alternaria, ring spot and Botrytis.
Resistance is a real issue so growers are urged to use a number of fungicides with different modes of action. Signum (boscalid and pyraclostrobin) has a strong position in this sector (Brassicas and carrots in particular) because of its broad-spectrum activity and its distinct mode of action.
Sclerotinia is a very widespread and serious disease of carrots:
- It affects both yield and quality
- Growers have the option of integrating cultural and chemical control methods
- A carrot clipping tool has been developed to take off the crop canopy as it flops over and creates the right microenvironment for disease spread
- BASF also offers a Sclerotinia germinating decision support tool for growers and advisors