A Growing Success at Welgro Produce
Three young growers, Gary Weldon, Sean Weldon and Shane Halpin from Co. Dublin, Ireland have taken on a whole new challenge. The challenge is a new business venture which involves growing cucumbers at Welgro Produce in County Dublin. They are determined to make a success of their investment in a business environment which can be challenging and often unpredictable. Even though the glasshouses are relatively old and in need of modernisation, the three growers have demonstrated that they certainly have the know-how when it comes to growing a quality crop of cucumbers. They have been mentored by their predecessors, Tom Collins and Jim Carty, who have grown cucumbers on the nursery since the 1970’s. “It is good to have so much encouragement and support from the local community and especially from Tom and Jim,” commented Shane.
Their first year’s experience has taught them that growing cucumbers is not without its challenges. Cucumber crops can be sensitive to changes in their growing environment and susceptible to attack from a range of pests and diseases. The environment is constantly monitored by sensors which feed into a computer system. If the boiler breaks down or the feeding system fails, Sean, Gary or Shane will receive an alarm call on their mobile phones to alert them to the problem, before crop damage occurs and cucumber yields are compromised.
Knowledge is key to successful growth
David Davidson, Koppert Consultant, has been providing pest control advice to the nursery for almost nine years. David’s knowledge ensures that various natural pest predators and parasites, which are released into the cucumber crop, are preventing pest populations from reaching levels which affect crop yield and quality. Welgro Produce was featured in a recent episode of the RTE 1 television series ‘Ear to the Ground’ aired on Thursday 18th November. During the RTE coverage David explained some of the technical merits of key beneficials. These included Neoseiulus californicus (Spical-Plus) for spider mite control in warm cucumber growing conditions, the predatory midge larvae of Aphidoletes (Aphidend), which feed on the black aphid Aphis gossypii, and the parasitic wasp, Aphidius colemani (Aphipar) which parasitises Aphis gossypii and Myzus persicae. He also explained about the use of blue and yellow Horiver sticky traps to monitor pests such as thrips and whitefly within the cucumber crop.
A Vision for the future
The three growers have a positive outlook, and want to invest in modernisation when the business becomes more established. Their vision is to build their cucumber production around eco-friendly practices, and continue to develop their understanding and use of biological control techniques. To make the necessary changes to more sustainable growing, Gary, Sean and Shane are aiming to increase the Irish market demand for Welgro cucumbers.