Q1. When and
why was the Cheshunt Research Station set up?
A1. British tomato
growers have always been at the forefront of horticultural research. As
long ago as 1914, glasshouse growers set up the Cheshunt Research
Station in the Lea Valley, north of London, to tackle the technical
problems then faced by the industry.
Q2. On average how
much is spent on the research of tomato production in the UK each year?
A2. Some £1.25 million
a year is currently spent on research on tomato production in the UK,
with growers directly funding the more applied, 'near market' research
by levies paid on their turnover through the Horticultural Development
Q3. What is being
done to improve fruit quality in respect of flavour, texture, appearance
A3. This is being
achieved by the development of new varieties and fruit types, improved
systems on handling fruit and grading after harvest, to allow fruit to
ripen on the vine, and understanding more about the basic biology of
plant growth and fruit development. Consumer research is being
undertaken to define buying patterns and consumer expectations to ensure
the industry meets the demands of today's market.
Q4. How do we
maintain the status of lowest cost producers for British growers in the
face of pressure from subsidised imports, especially from southern
A4. The aim is
to improve production efficiency by increasing yields, whilst reducing
inputs. British growers have been very successful in this respect.
Average production per acre has doubled in the past 25 years, whilst the
use of glasshouse heating fuel has been reduced by one third, and labour
hours by two thirds, for each box of tomatoes produced. This, however,
is dependent on substantial investment in new glasshouses and
Q5. How do British
growers achieve pest and disease control without pesticides?
A5. Britain leads the
world in biological pest control, employing natural predators to control
pests such as leaf miners and red spider mites. This ensures an
environmentally friendly industry with added consumer protection.
Natural control methods represent the most effective and profitable
solution. An armoury of natural enemies is now available from
specialist rearing companies, and growers have become skilled in these
advanced techniques, following research on the best ways to use them.
British growers have a published target of eliminating the use of all
pesticides on their crops an increasing area of organic tomato crops is
also being produced here.
Q6. What are other
means of disease control?
Other means of
disease control are also being developed such as sand filtration systems
to recycle water.