Funding for The Cut Flower Centre has been confirmed for a further five years, with a broadened remit to research crop protection.
The Centre will build on its past record of bringing new commercially successful cut flowers to the UK market and will also now help to address key industry research needs.
New trials for 2018 include research into Fusarium on column stocks, in conjunction with University of Warwick, and weed control, supported by ADAS.
AHDB Horticulture is investing over £300,000 to support the Centre for the next five years in order to continue to drive productivity and innovation in the cut flower industry.
The agile research structure of The Cut Flower Centre, funded by AHDB Horticulture, also enables trials to respond quickly to key industry priorities. Trials this year will address petal spotting on field-grown sunflowers, which causes losses of up to 2.4 million stems per year in the UK.
Wayne Brough, AHDB Knowledge Exchange Manager, said: “Our ambition is to ensure the cut flower industry remains supported with a leading centre of excellence, delivering research that helps to create new market opportunities, as well innovative growing techniques.”
Previous trials at The Cut Flower Centre has led to the introduction of 11 new commercially grown crops, with a combined potential farm-gate value of £2.9 million over the previous five year period. New crops have included varieties of antirrhinum, lisianthus, trachelium and various hardy perennials including hypericum, salix, sedum and viburnum.
Lyndon Mason, project manager of The Cut Flower Centre, said: “While new product development will still be important in the future, we will be doing more work to solve ongoing industry issues with the ability to use funds to investigate topical or currently unforeseen issues.
“The new round of funding will enable the Centre to continue to draw together all interested parties within the cut flower sector and ensure that we support the industry by undertaking a broad remit of activities that are all driven by the grower themselves.”
An annual open day to view the current trials will be held in Spalding on 8 August 2018. A free pest & disease plant diagnostic service, courtesy of AHDB and the CHAP mobile diagnostic laboratories, will be offered at the event. Delegates will be able to discuss pest and disease control issues with specialists from FERA.
To book your place, visit horticulture.ahdb.org.uk/events.
Brough added: “Our open day has always been a great opportunity to bring the industry together. This will remain a key part of the Centre’s activity.”
The Cut Flower Centre is part of AHDB Farm Excellence, helping the industry to learn, share and create new ideas to drive innovation and increase productivity. Peer-to-peer learning is at the heart of AHDB’s knowledge exchange work, with nearly 60 farms across the country fully engaged in AHDB Farm Excellence activities.