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Vol 15 No 3

R40.00 (RSA) VAT & Postage incl.


U N D E R C O V E R  F A R M I N G

May/June Mei/Junie 2018



• Cwebe Nursery: Spreading its Wings • SAFGA Convened at Berg en Dal • Gerbera: Monitoring Growth, Pests & Diseases • Are you Covered for Product Recall?

Your guide to intensive farming u g ids tot intensiewe boerd ery



U N D E R C O V E R  F A R M I N G

Contents • Inhoud

Please take note of the new contact e-mail addresses for Nufarmer Africa and Undercover Farming magazines. Kindly amend your address list on your e-mail system accordingly. Thank you! for all communications pertaining to Undercover Farming and Nufarmer Africa magazines for all press releases, editorial content for all communication pertaining to Undercover Farming Expo & Conference and Special Projects for all communication pertaining to finance and administration for all communication pertaining to marketing, sales and subscription to Nufarmer Africa and/or Undercover Farming magazines We apologise for any inconvenience in this instance but ensure you of improved e-mail communication in future. Suzanne Oosthuizen; Director PROPRIETOR / ADVERTISING SUZANNE OOSTHUIZEN 012-543 0880 / 082 832 1604 Email: EDITORIAL CONTENT & COMPILATION Johan Swiegers 082 882 7023 ADDRESS PO Box 759, Montana Park 0159 E-MAIL FAX 086 518 3430 ADDRESS PO Box 759, Montana Park 0159 DESIGN Fréda Prinsloo PRINTING Business Print Centre Undercover Farming accepts no responsibility for claims made in advertisements or for opinions and recommendations expressed by individuals or any other body or organisation in articles published in Undercover Farming. Copyright is reserved and the content may only be reproduced with the consent of the Editor.



ost vehicles on the South African roads are not insured. Getting engaged in a collision where the perpetrator carries no insurance, you have to pay the costs yourself for something you were not accountable for. The question that arise from this somewhat weird introduction is; “How can you not insure an investment of a million or more Rands, with crops and third party coverage if you plan to become a main role player in the fresh produce business as a greenhouse farmer?” Insurance (and please, I am an editor, not selling insurance!) should be seen as part of the monthly basic expenses and therefore production and marketing must be at such a level that it pays the premium. Is that not why we have seen the ‘comers and goers’, so to speak? The many skeletons of greenhouses seen in years past unfortunately put would-be greenhouse farmers off completely. Many times in the past fifteen years question were received by the office on how many greenhouses or hectares under greenhouses or/and shade net structures there are in South Africa. Sadly, we had to shy away as nobody had a clue; not organisations, markets or government departments. If such figures could be fairly accurately gathered, per province and in total and the totals of the various greenhouse produce growers, it could be of much value to service providers, growers, government and most importantly; investors. We hear all over the country and neighbouring states how expansion to greenhouse farming takes place. Greenhouse farming is the way to go and space does not allow the outline of all the positives for this industry. Good tidings have it that the flower industry is increasing exports. We wish SAFGA and its members every success in moving ahead! This edition once more contains some interesting advice and reading – enjoy! Ed 

GOLDEN WORDS • GOUE WOORDE Proverbs 18:10 The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe. Spreuke 18:10 Die Naam van die Here is ‘n sterk Toring; die regverdige vlug daarin en word beskut. S u b scrip t i o n / in t e k enin g Online subs: Email to If you subscribe on-line, e-mail your deposit and address details to: More information from Suzannne Oosthuizen: 012-543 0880. Subscription form available on page 19.

v isi t us at / b es o e k o ns b y

U N D E R C O V E R  F A R M I N G



Front page: Wynand Proper of Cwebe Nursery in one of the new multispans. See page 4.

Cwebe nursery – family nursery business spreads its wings 4 Safga grower’s day at Berg en Dal 6 About Monitoring Growth, Pests and Diseases on Gerbera 7 Real Historic facts on Multiflora 7 Greenhouse farming – what happens if disaster strikes? 10 GreenTech Amsterdam concludes spectacular third edition 11 Using UV technology for disinfection at low cost 12 Wall Street of Fresh Produce not for faint of heart! 13 Why do we grow Bell peppers? 14 Are you covered for product recall and contamination? 16 Why add Calcium via the roots? 19 Subscription form 19

Cwebe nursery – family nursery business spreads its wings The climate and soil to the North-West of Pretoria is fertile and very favourable for growing ornamentals and flowers. For this reason, and the fact that the well-known Proper family have been in the horticultural industry for three generations in South Africa, decided to purchase Cwebe farm close to Brits in 2001.

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he late Willem Proper arrived from Holland after the Second World War with his wife and three children. Willem came from a horticultural background with technical graduation in plant propagation and decided to establish himself in South Africa. At first he attached himself to Hadeco where he worked for a number of years and became well-respected for his thorough knowledge of flowers and plants. Willem eventually started Florex indoor plants in the Johannesburg area. Supplying mainly indoor plants to office blocks, and at a lesser scale to the retail nursery market. Willem’s youngest son, Hugo Proper entered the business in 1980 and grew to become one of the foremost flower plant nurserymen in the country. Willem Proper retired and a brother of Hugo came into the business. They eventually had a marketing and distribution centre in Kyalami, Johannesburg, from where plants were distributed. In 1984 another farm was purchased in Hekpoort to expand the production for increased plant production. As family members grow, needs grow and the two brothers decided to divide the business into two separate entities. This is when Hugo introduced his son Wynand, who studied to his part of the business and established him at the Cwebe farm in 2002. In 2003 shade net structures Stocks grown at were put up for plant production. Only Cwebe Nurseries. recently in 2017 plastic tunnels were erected with the aid of Hytech Agriculture and plastic from Vegtech. This helped improve crop quality and a more even production cycle throughout Wynand Proper of Cwebe Nurseries with Stocks flowers in one of the year. the new multi-spans. The climate in the area is slightly warmer than at Hekpoort in summer and winter and therefore Wynand has not introduced a heating system. “With the enormous rise in energy costs, we have decided to keep our operation as simple and energy efficient as possible.” Wynand says.

Greenhouse assistants busy with weeding to keep the production area clean and allow the plants to grow undisturbed.

At Cwebe Nursery assistants in the greenhouse are trained throughout their career to work with plants in the greenhouse with utmost care.

U N D E R C O V E R  F A R M I N G

Hugo and his two other sons manage the Hekpoort farm. “I might have chosen a career in the finance sector, but my roots are in flower and plant production, hence I joined the family business,” Wynand Proper admitted. At Cwebe Nursery, Wynand is the general manager with four foremen who each have diffe­rent responsibilities in the nursery. “I have to give credit to my loyal staff who are the backbone of this business, without them I could not achieve much“. The three main products produced for green foliage in bouquets are; Ruscus, Aspidistra and Viburnum. Production of cut flowers include Close-up of a Snap flower. Sunflowers, Ornamental Kale, Stocks, Snaps and White Lace, amongst others. They grow mainly cut flowers and foliage of various kinds but also open land plants like Strelitzia’s. Leaves of Strelitzia plants are widely used in bouquets as well. Most of the flowers are supplied to Multiflora flower market in City Deep. According to Wynand he is in contact with René Schoenmaker of AFG worldwide, a flower exporter to assist Cwebe Nursery’s cut flowers to be exported from late this year into early next year. Cwebe Nursery’s farmland has rich soil and there is a borehole that offers strong water support to the nursery system throughout the year. A covered reservoir in close proximity to the production area was installed and four neat worker houses built with proper facilities. Wynand designed an interesting load bay where the truck reverses down into the bay in order to load at ground level from the packhouse. Should excessive rain fill this system, the water is simply pumped out and used for other purposes on the farm. The flower industry is indeed picking up with the weakening rand, foreign markets are lucrative and exports are already taking place to Europe, the middle and Far East and even Australia. The major drawback is the competition with Kenya and other mid-African and even European countries where agriculture receives up to 70% subsidies, it’s simply the unfortunate fact that local government offers no financial assistance. South African producers are highly respected and most sought after overseas, but local input and labour costs hold back the industry from progress. JS 


A packer makes bunches of flowering cabbage for the market.

Safga grower’s day at Berg en Dal In early April the South African Flower Growers (SAFGA) convened at Berg en Dal Chrysanthemum farm of Pieter Rodenburg outside Brits. This grower is one of the major Chrysanthemum growers in the country.



he Grower’s Day started at noon and around 45 people attended the day. After a tour through the greenhouses where Pieter answered several questions of the visitors, a light lunch was served. Almost across the way from Berg en Dal is the Cwebe Nursery. After lunch the group of visitors moved over to view the nursery. It is a fairly new establishment but growing well with good future prospects under management of Wynand Proper. Here, a demonstration took place of a Farmax de-compactor, a digger and a plant-bed maker was demonstrated. Where greenhouse or shade netcovered soil is compacted over time, it needs to be loosened up before compost is added to ensure even plant stand. Using this equipment will save much time and labour for the grower. According to Jac Duif, the SAFGA secretary it is the Association’s policy that only members are allowed to participate in such events. SAFGA regularly organizes such events for its members. The next Grower’s Day will be held on 26 July at Semperflora close to Brits. This event will be attended also by an envoy of Flora Holland, the world’s largest flower auction who at the time is visiting South Africa. 

MAART/MARCH Nov • Des/Dec • APRIL2018 2016 2016 MEI/MAY • JUNIE/JUNE


Cutflower pickers in a Chrysanthemum greenhouse at Berg en Dal.

About Monitoring Growth, Pests and Diseases on Gerbera Today, the greenhouse is a specialized high tech production system for a wide variety of crops. Due to its large scale, it is impossible for a grower to monitor and control all plants individually. This, combined with other factors like an inhomogeneous climate, complex IPM in which the biological balance is vulnerable and where no individual plant information is available, leads to sub-optimal plant conditions.

Real Historic facts on Multiflora The idea of a centralised flower market seemed utterly far-fetched in the early 1940s, but four out-of-the-box thinkers didn't agree. On July 13, 1944, Jacob Toxopeus, GC van der Merwe, Willie Stock (who cleverly came up with the name Multiflora), and Jochem Toxopeus got together to decide on the basic structure of the company which, today, is the core of the South African flower industry.


efore this concept materialised, flower sellers hired tables at the Johannesburg Municipal Market, selling direct to florists, members of the public and street vendors. Each of the four shareholders invested R7.500 in the venture and Jacob Toxopeus became the CEO of the fledging business that

opened in Jeppe Street with one manager, two auctioneers, a caretaker, a fruit salesperson, a typist and six flower handlers. Persuading flower growers to use the new auction house was the first task and transport of fresh blooms could be a problem. In the early days, this involved bicycles, horse-and-cart and trains. And who, today, is surprised, flowers transported by train often arrived late! Despite the initial problems, Multiflora flourished. Card­ board boxes were introduced in the 1950s and the com­ pany's reach extended out to Tzaneen, Pietersburg and the Lowveld, dealing in the then top-of-the-pops fashionable flowers carnations, snap dragons and poppies. By September 1975, Multiflora needed larger premises and moved to its present location at City Deep and the auction process was computerised the following year in 1976. Today, Multiflora, with its 600 flower growers and about 400 buyers, has a turnover of R300 million a year an incredible achievement for a business that started as nothing more than a bright idea in 1944!  Source: Multiflora

Today, Multiflora, with its 600 flower growers and about 400 buyers, has a turnover of R300 million a year an incredible achievement for a business that started as nothing more than a bright idea in 1944! Multiflora in the ‘40’s.


Such a beautiful flower, the Gerbera. But farmers often experience downy mildew on the plants.

U N D E R C O V E R  F A R M I N G


he Grower’s Day started at noon and around 45 people attended the day. After a tour through the greenhouses where Pieter answered several questions of the visitors, a light lunch was served. Almost across the way from Berg en Dal is the Cwebe Nursery. After lunch the group of visitors moved over to view the nursery. It is a fairly new establishment but growing well with good future prospects under management of Wynand Proper. Here, a demonstration took place of a Farmax de-compactor, a digger and a plant-bed maker. Where greenhouse or shade net-covered soil is compacted over time, it needs to be loosened up before compost is added to ensure even plant stand. Using this equipment will save much time and labour for the grower. According to Jac Duif, the SAFGA secretary it is the Association’s policy that only members are allowed to participate in such events. SAFGA regularly organizes such events for its members. The next Grower’s Day will be held on 26 July at Semperflora close to Brits. This event will be attended also by an envoy of Flora Holland, the world’s largest flower auction who at the time is visiting South Africa. 

Greenhouse farming – what happens if disaster strikes? In Spain a serious hailstorm was experienced during the first hours of the afternoon on the 1st of May in the area of Poniente Almeriense. The hailstorm completely destroyed 41 hectares of greenhouses and caused various damages in other 9 hectares.

T U N D E R C O V E R  F A R M I N G

he farms that were affected belong to 56 owners. The oldest greenhouses with less solid structures experienced most of the damage. These were mainly vege­ table greenhouses.



In addition to the damages to structures, crops were also affected directly because of the impact of hailstorm or because of the drop of temperature that the accumulation of hail caused inside the greenhouses. The remnants of a greenhouse after the storm in the south of Spain at Poniente Almeriense. (Picture: Horto Info, SP) Different institutions reminded the growers about the importance of money on this ‘new venture into agriculture’. Just one severe wind storm having their farms covered by insurance, both structures and crops. or possibly a hail storm swept away their investment and the rests remain Also in early May, a dam on a commercial flower farm in Kenya’s Rift Valley burst after weeks of torrential rain, unleashing a “sea of water” that careered down a hillside and smashed into two villages, killing at least 47 people. The walls of the reservoir, on top of a hill in Nakuru province, 190 km northwest of Nairobi, gave way late as nearby residents were sitting down to evening meals. Kenya is one of the largest suppliers of cut flowers to Europe, and roses from the 3,500-acre Solai farm are exported to the Netherlands and Germany, according to Optimal Connection, its Netherlandsbased handling agent. After a severe drought last year, East Africa has been hit by two months of heavy rain, affecting nearly a million people in Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia and Uganda. Bridges have been swept away and roads turned into rivers of mud. What can we in South Africa learn from these serious losses suffered? Different professionals for sure will have their opinions, but one thing remains; obtain insurance. Many people started out with their pension or hard earned

in the form of ugly skeletons with pieces of plastic dangling over hip-high weeds. Unfortunately these ‘skeletons’ are mostly never removed but have people passing by disdain from entering the field of greenhouse production – what a pity! The answer is to – when venturing into the greenhouse business, find the right spot, obtain a weather report on that spot in order to see if your site is viable and construct the greenhouse according to specifications but as best possible not to be ripped up by a wind storm. Once the plans are drawn, the business plan is finalised, crop type, market and all, take out insurance on the structures, crop and in-transport losses. It is not advisable, given the Kenya disaster, to construct greenhouses and, for that matter offices, cold rooms and worker houses below a reservoir especially if directly fed from a large catchment area. JS 

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More international total of 10,465 professionals from 112 countries visited the show over three days. More than half the visitors came from outside the Netherlands and the number of multinationals that attended also increased. Top 3 climbers: Belgium, Japan and Canada.

What the visitors said about GreenTech “An introduction to the rapid innovation which is essential for a successful company”, “Fascinating, full of technological innovations, safety and comfort for the participants”, “Greentech was great for thought-provoking exhibits and interesting discussions with industry colleagues worldwide.”

GreenTech Innovation Awards The best innovations at GreenTech were awarded. The winners were: Autostix – Visser Horti Systems (GreenTech Innovation Award), Poseidon Sodium Extractor – Van der Ende Groep (GreenTech Sustainability Award), Priva Academy – Priva Horticulture BV (GreenTech Impact Award) and IRIS! Scoutrobot – Metazet-FormFlex, Micothon & Ecoation (GreenTech Concept Award).

GreenTech Summit On 11 June GreenTech presented 292 horticulture decision makers and investors with an extensive programme on the ‘Insights for the Next Decade’ on how to keep their business model future-proof. Those who attended awarded the summit a score of 8.7. As Steven Newell (member of the GreenTech Summit Committee and CEO of Windset Farms) explained, “The Summit provided international

operating growers and investors with thought-provoking modern horticulture ideas and concepts for the future and details on what lies ahead for the industry.”

Cooperation between AVAG and GreenTech expanded During the trade fair AVAG and RAI reinforced their continued cooperation. AVAG, which is the sector and knowledge organisation, represents all market leaders and innovators in Dutch greenhouse technology and is regarded around the world as the Formula 1 in the sector. AVAG has become the main partner of GreenTech.

Yearly from now on From now on GreenTech is going to be an annual show. The next edition is to be held on 11 - 13 June 2019. As Harm Maters (AVAG) explains, “The Greenhouse technology market is booming worldwide. That is why a robust trade fair is needed in the Netherlands as a marketing instrument for the entire (inter)national horticultural sector. An annual event where business, knowledge and social trends are discussed and practical examples are highlighted! The DNA of the worldwide horticultural sector consists primarily of meetings, exchanges and trade.”

About GreenTech GreenTech is the global meeting place for all horticultural technology professionals. GreenTech focuses on the early stages of the horticultural chain and the contemporary issues growers face. GreenTech Amsterdam – organised by RAI Amsterdam at the RAI Amsterdam Convention Centre – is going to take place from 11 - 13 June 2019. 


GreenTech 2018 was a successful event covering three days packed with energy, business and knowledge-sharing. Exhibitors were enthusiastic about the larger numbers of decision makers and international visitors. GreenTech kicked off with a highly valued GreenTech Summit. Visitors from across the globe came to hear about and discuss the ‘Insights for the Next Decade’. This was followed by three days of the GreenTech Trade Fair. This edition of the show had 477 exhibitors, 20% more exhibition space than 2016 and an increase of 8% in the number of visitors. It is the ultimate international horticulture hub. GreenTech was organised by RAI Amsterdam and took place from 12 to 14 June 2018.

U N D E R C O V E R  F A R M I N G

GreenTech Amsterdam concludes spectacular third edition

Using UV technology for disinfection at low cost The UV technology is both the oldest and one of the best technologies used to disinfect fluids. The method is based on the natural disinfectant action of the sun’s rays. Low-pressure UV lamps imitate the disinfecting rays of the sun.

T U N D E R C O V E R  F A R M I N G

he reaction time between the UV irradiation and the organism to be killed is very short and does not create any by-products at all. The water quality, both physical and chemical, remains identical before and after treatment using the low-pressure UV technique. UV disinfection can therefore take place at any conceivable and necessary place in a system.



Due to the low operating costs, these installations are very efficient eco­ nomically. Their compact structure allows the installations to be set up in the smallest spaces. No chemicals need to be stored. The system operates without problems and is completely hazard-free. There are no undesirable by-products.

Understanding UV UV rays are energy-rich electromagnetic rays that occur in the natural spectrum of sunlight. They are in the invisible shortwave light band. UV rays are divided into the following categories: The radiation range be­low 200 nm consists of ionising ozone-gene­ rating or hard rays.

Basic principle The low-intensity lamps used for UV disinfection have their maximum capacity at 254 nm and therefore cover almost the entire absorption curve of DNA. UV radiation gives rise to a photochemical reaction in the DNA, which leads to the formation of dimers, preferably at the level of the thymine bases. This prevents bonding of the adenine bases, and as a result further cell multiplication and metabolism is interrupted. In this way micro-organisms are deactivated and rendered harmless. No by-products are formed in this process which could give rise to a change in the water or have a negative impact on the taste of drinking water.

Transmission When light shines through water, the water stops part of the radiation. This also means that the disinfectant effect is reduced as the radiation lessens. Transmission is the capacity of a substance to allow UV light (± 254 nm) to pass through it, as measured across 1 cm of liquid. Here are transmission values for Horticultural water (transmission through 1 cm): Type

Transmission Value %

Vegetables Flowers Ornamental Plants Chicory

15-30 15-45 25-40 20-55

What UV dose is required?


Coliform bacteria, legionella, faecal bacteria, streptococci, nematodes (eelworms) and yeasts etc. 3 to 40 Pathogenic fungi, such as fusarium, pithium, Phytophtora, etc; 30 to 120 Viruses such as cucumber virus, olpidium, cholera, etc. 60 to 250

Avoid reinfection Experience has taught that reinfection does not constitute a significant problem. Growers confirm that reinfection does not occur if the inlet and outlet pipes are kept clean and if the UV installation is able to function under perfect conditions. It goes without saying that whenever maintenance and/or repairs are carried out on the pipe network, full disinfection is required.

Principle The artificial production of UV radiation is almost always achieved using Mercury-Amalgam-Indium gas-discharge lamps. Gas-discharge lamps consist of a (usually elongated) discharge reactor. The gas (vapour mixture) inside such a lamp is sealed off from the outside world by an airtight seal. The electrodes are situated at both ends of this glass tube Gas-discharge lamps consist of a (usually elongated) discharge reactor. The gas (vapour mixture) inside such a lamp is sealed off from the outside world by an airtight seal. The electrodes are situated at both ends of this glass tube In principle a distinction is made between two types of mercury gas-dis­ charge lamps: • Medium-pressure UV lamps • Low-pressure UV lamps

HDUV Medium-pressure UV lamps have certain disadvantages. Systems fitted with them have higher operating costs. Since operating costs are usually a very important if not decisive factor when it comes to water disinfection, low-intensity UV lamps are used almost exclusively. The main disadvantages are: • High operating costs • Low energy efficiency • Short lifetime • Rapid dirtying of the quartz tube due to high radiation density and high surface temperature • Rapid overheating when water is not moving

Radiation doses

• Due to the high proportion of long-wavelength UV rays, recovery mechanisms in the cell are activated: this leads to less effective disinfection capacity

The radiation dose is a measure of the biological effect of the UV irradiation.

• Breakdown of nutrients and conversion of nitrates into nitrites (horticulture)

The effect depends on the organism needing to be killed. The measurement is expressed in mJ/cm2 and/or J/m2.


The disinfectant capacity is dependent on: • The capacity of the UV lamp • The soiling of the quartz tube • The transmission of the fluid • The thickness of the fluid layer • The fluid flow rate

It is true that low-pressure UV lamps can only work at relatively low power, but they do score more highly in terms of efficiency. This is because they produce a higher percentage of UVc light (up to 40%). Low-pressure UV has many advantages over medium-pressure UV lamps being; safe and low priced, user-friendly and, no chemical changes in the disinfected water.  Source: C. Beeckman

Wall Street of Fresh Produce not for Faint of Heart! Being in the fresh produce market agency business is not for the faint-hearted. It is a business that requires long hours, hard work and patience but most importantly trust, for without being trustworthy and reliable, you cannot be an effective market agent.


Price discovery requires skilful trading as the farmer wants to sell at the highest price and the buyer wants to buy at the best price possible in order to resell at a profit. Supply and demand also plays a major role in the price determination and it can change accordingly. Today’s price can influence tomorrow’s price. Andries Erasmus, RSA Potato Section Head and salesman, who has been working on the market floor for over 25 years says on price discovery, “It’s a gut-feeling that every trader has when it comes to price determination. There are no fancy calculations. It’s purely a gut-feeling that comes with experience and from knowing and understanding your industry.” Fresh produce markets have created employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for thousands of people from sales agents to street hawkers. There is no barrier to entry to becoming a buyer. All that is needed is a buyer’s card as no cash is accepted on the market floor. One could never have guessed that these establishments lie deep in cities around South Africa. #ProFreshionals – the wall street of fresh produce in South Africa.  For more information on the RSA Group, please visit their website, as well as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @RSAMarketAgents


Work for fresh produce agents begins in the early hours of the morning while most people are still sleeping. Fruit and vegetables from farmers arrive during the evening and the early hours of the morning. When the salesmen arrive at the market, they need to check the new produce that has arrived, enter it into the computer system and walk the market floors to see what stock is available at other market agents to get an idea of overall volume in order to formulate price for the day. The market floors soon become noisy and filled with energy and activity while market agents are kept busy with negotiating prices with buyers, speaking to farmers and filling orders. Salesmen or traders are the link between the farmer and the buyers as the buyer is actually the farmer’s customer.

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he RSA Group has been trading for over 30 years at fresh produce markets. They have businesses at six national and two regional markets and employ over 800 staff across the country. More than 865 000 tons of fresh produce is sold by the Group each year. RSA buyers are from across the country as well as from neighbouring countries such as Mozambique, Lesotho and Zambia.

Why do we grow Bell peppers? Questions about the food that we grow in our greenhouses are on everybody’s lips when greenhouse farming is socially discussed. The most hard-pressing questions about Bell Peppers are answered in this editorial. This makes it an important piece of reading for the grower, marketer and consumer – all of whom the questions are often posed to.

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ed, orange, and yellow Bell Peppers are full of great health benefits— they are packed with vitamins and low in calories! They are an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium. Bell Peppers also contain a healthy dose of fibre, folate, and iron. Along with being full of nutrients, Bell Peppers deliver a satisfying and low-calorie crunch with every bite. Try eating snappy Bell Peppers instead of high-calorie chips and crackers with dips like hummus or salsa!

The different colours?

Even in nature, Bell Peppers change from green to their destined colour as they ripen. This is because, just like with tomatoes or cucumbers, there are many different varieties of Bell Peppers. Some varieties turn from green to red, others turn from green to orange, and still others change from green to yellow. The most popular colours are red, orange, and yellow, but even purple Bell Peppers are produced. Bell Peppers come packed in the same colour or packs of red, yellow and green. Green peppers may be not ripe yet and could be unripe orange or yellow Bell Peppers! A green Bell Pepper is a prematurely picked Bell Pepper of any variety. This means that there is orange, or yellow Bell Peppers – they are picked before they can start to get sweet!

Healthiest colour?

Red, orange, and yellow Bell Peppers have very similar health benefits to one another. Even though they are different colours, they all have similar amounts of vitamin A and vitamin C in them. Red Bell Peppers also contain lycopene,

an antioxidant or carotenoid that helps fight free radicals in your body. Yellow and orange Bell Peppers are also rich in carotenoids. One thing to note is that all three colours of Bell Peppers have substantially more nutritional value than green Bell Peppers – this is because green Bell Peppers are picked before the ripening process is complete and all the nutrients and natural sugars enter the Pepper.

Grow period

Just like Tomatoes and Cucumbers, growing Bell Peppers in a greenhouse is very different than growing them in a garden. From planting to harvest, it takes about 12 weeks for the first batch of Bell Peppers to grow in the greenhouse. This is a longer period of time than you would see in a garden setting, but the difference is that while a Bell Pepper plant in a garden will only bear a handful of Peppers, a Bell Pepper plant in a greenhouse will produce roughly forty Bell Peppers in one season! With a longer growing season and perfect climate, greenhouse-grown Bell Pepper plants will yield substantially more Bell Peppers than garden-grown plants.

Harvest time

The picker knows that a Bell Pepper is ready to pick when it has ripened to full colour. This means that there is minimal to no green colour left on the skin of the Bell Pepper. By letting a Bell Pepper ripen fully, you are also getting all the nutritional benefits from it. That is why the Bell Peppers (and Tomatoes and Cucumbers, for that matter) are picked when they are fully vine-

It’s important to think about what you’re using Bell Peppers for when choosing them at the grocery store. If you are cutting them up for a salad, you don’t need a pristine-looking Pepper. However, if you’re using them to cook Stuffed Peppers, a four lobe Pepper is your best option.

Refrigeration As soon as Bell Peppers reach the home it should be put in one of the fridge’s crisper drawers. Raw Bell Peppers will last between one and two weeks in a fridge – just make sure it is stored dry.

Bell Peppers are extremely versatile – one can enjoy them grilled, sautéed, in soups or sauces, and even raw. Everyone knows that Stuffed Bell Peppers are a delicious meal option, but it can be a fun addition to so many other great recipes.

Vegetable or fruit? Along with Tomatoes and Cucumbers, Bell Peppers are one of those foods that are always contentious – are they a fruit or a vegetable? Although they are commonly considered a vegetable, Bell Peppers are technically fruits because they contain seeds. When people think of fruits, they almost always think of apples, oranges, pears, or peaches – this is because a common misconception is that fruits only grow on trees. But a fruit is any produce item that has seeds! Therefore since Bell Peppers have seeds, they are technically fruits. 

Buying Peppers

When choosing a Bell Pepper, you want to find one without any sunburn spots, shrivelling, or signs of decay. A common misconception is that scarring is a bad defect, but scarring does not affect the quality, flavour, or freshness of Peppers. Many people think that Bell Peppers with two or three lobes aren’t as good – this is also false. If the Bell Pepper doesn’t have the above-mentioned defects, a two or three lobe Pepper is just as healthy and nutritious to choose as a four-lobe Pepper.

By: Adam Mefrakis et al, Nature Farms




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ripened – the grower wants to make sure that the consumers are getting all the health benefits they possibly can from the food they eat!

U N D E R C O V E R  F A R M I N G

Cut Bell Peppers will not last as long – about two to three days. Make sure to only cut the Bell Peppers as and when required to keep them at their freshest (and to decrease the potential for food waste in the kitchen).

Are you covered for product recall and contamination? Recent high-profile product recalls have focused an uncomfortable spotlight on failures of product safety and contamination prevention processes, highlighting the need for comprehensive risk management and insurance to manage the onerous reputational, financial and legal repercussions of a large-scale product recall.

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roduct recall and contamination insurance is relatively commonplace among most large commercial and multinational operators,” says Tony Webster of insurance brokerage and risk advisors, Aon South Africa. “However, most small to mediumsized commercial businesses have not kept pace with the need for this essential cover, and are at huge financial and legal risk if a product they have supplied – or even a component of a final product – is the subject of a product recall due to material risks posed to consumer health and safety. The reality is that most small operators only think about how to manage a product recall when it’s too late. For a smaller company without the financial and marketing backing of a large parent company, the consequences could be dire.” In particular, the risks in the food processing industry are marked, and here every operator in the supply chain – from farm to fork - must take due care of the products and ingredients within their care – from growers, processers to logistics providers, wholesalers, distributors and retailers. “A thorough risk identification process is at the heart of establishing exactly where the risks are and what your business is liable for. This is a task best undertaken with the aid of a professional insurance broker by your side in order to formulate a holistic view of all the risks that your business is exposed to, what measures to put in place to manage and mitigate the potential exposures, and then having an appropriate insurance plan in place that will respond favourably in any given situation,” Webster recommends.

Product recall and contamination insurance provides cover for unforeseen and accidental events that can jeopardise product integrity and safety. “The insurance policy will cover the cost of withdrawing and recovering the stock from the shelves, transport costs, staff overtime, the costs to repair, replace or destroy the product, the subsequent loss of profits and the crisis communication efforts needed to keep the brand integrity in check and to advise consumers of the product recall,” says Webster. The biggest impact associated with a product recall is reputational damage. “Social media can rapidly exacerbate and escalate any product recall situation,” Webster adds, “unless handled properly. It is therefore crucial to respond rapidly in an emergency and to take particular care with the message being communicated to your customers, as it may ultimately influence the severity of the loss and the consumer sentiment post recall. Then there are also the business interruption aspects associated with a product recall where a site or production line may have to be completely shut down due to contamination.” Product recall insurance on its own is also not sufficient to address the multifaceted risks in the food supply chain, as there are also liability aspects to consider, including the potential for legal class action in severe cases. An all-encompassing liability insurance programme is essential. “If the product causes harm to a person, there are two additional scenarios that come into play from a liability point of view,” explains Webster. “Product liability cover would provide a solution to any injury or damage that the product may cause, for example a product that is incorrectly labelled, like not listing nuts as an allergen. Directors and Officers (D&O) Insurance would also come into play where a person in a supervisory position did not practice due diligence in their role, and faces being held liable in their personal capacity for any legal claim that may arise.” It is crucial for all role players in the supply chain – large and small - to fully interrogate the extent of their exposure and all potential sources of risk. “Even a seemingly small ingredient or component supplier could be drawn in as a co-defendant if there is a liability claim, with the Consumer Protection Act providing significant protection and recourse for consumers against all role players in the supply chain. The legal defence costs alone have the potential to bankrupt smaller operators, hence the imperative to have comprehensive insurance to protect the business from those risks that simply cannot be mitigated or foreseen,” says Webster. “The most important consideration is the ‘total cost of risk’, where the costs of recall insurance are dwarfed by the potential catastrophic consequences for a business of a recall that threatens human life or limb,” concludes Webster. 

How SA suppliers can adapt to supplying small suburban outlets At the recent Undercover Farming Conference at the CSIR Conference Centre, Frank de Villiers, marketing manager of Dynatrade enlightened the delegates on the benefits of controlled release fertilizer (CRF). As far as fifteen years ago a product called Osmocote was imported from the Netherlands by his company.

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RF’s such as Osmocote are different to granular fertilizers or liquid fertilizers. Rather than releasing a quick rush of fertilizer, a CRF will release the nutrients slowly over a longer period of time. CRF’s play a key role in improving yield, reducing nutrient losses and thus simplify the application process. These products also help to regulate the nutrition levels throughout the plant’s entire growth cycle. In a simple one-time application CRF leads to uniform growth, optimum yield and resistant plants – therefore maximum results with minimum effort. Each granule of Osmocote is coated for controlled release and is made up of Nitrogen, Calcium and Potassium and more essential trace elements. When water penetrates the granular cutting it starts to dissolve the nutrients. The nutrients and trace elements are being taken up through the root system and afterwards, the coating of the granule automatically breaks up in the soil as organic particles. The coating of the Osmocote particle acts as a membrane. As soon as water enters the membrane it gets in touch with the fertilizer and trace elements and these are released over a period of one to two weeks. As explained, the coating eventually breaks up as organic matter.This product is not affected by the soil, pH, salt level in the soil, irrigation quantity and rain. Only soil temperature can affect Osmocote. High temperature will speed up the release and lower temperatures will slow down the release of the fertilizer. The ideal temperature for Osmcote to release fertilizer is 21°C average day/night soil temperature. With regular irrigation the inside soil temperature is lower than the outside temperature. At soil temperatures higher than 21°C the product will release quicker and soil temperatures lower than 21°C a slower release will take place. The Osmocote product comes in different varieties for different release periods. One for instance at 21°C soil temperature releases at 1% per day. This is called Osmocote Pro that will release over hundred days 100% of its content; obviously at a regular soil temperature of 21°C. Therefore its longevity makes it popular. Another example one can observe is 26°C soil temperature; 25% higher than the standard 21°C. This will cause the Osmocote to release its contents faster and therefore the longevity of the product will be shorter. The release period shortens to about 75 days. On the other hand, if the soil temperature falls with five percent from 21°C the longevity will be shorter as the release takes much longer.

There are a number of benefits of controlled Release Fertilizer: Ease of use. The producer has peace of mind that fertilizer will be released as prescribed (depending on the standard soil temperature) regardless of outside climate activities. During moist or cold outside temperatures, the producer using top fertilizer or irrigation, must decide what the plant needs and stands a chance of over watering his crop or run the risk of nutrient deficiencies. CRF’s continues releasing fertilizer without the use of water. It only needs to be applied once unlike a water soluble fertilizer or granular fertilizer. Because CRF’s release fertilizer slowly and constantly and in a manner that is not tied to the irrigation frequency it provides more consistent nutrient release to plants offering the possibility of consistent quality. Reduced application cost. Labour is always a concern for the grower. The incorporation of CRF can reduce labour cost by eliminating the need to mix and monitor water soluble fertilizer. It does not need special injection equipment and eliminate the possibility of improper mixing water soluble fertilizer in the stock solution. Incorporating CRF does not require extra labour – the labour is already at hand. It is also simple to vary the CRF application for crops with different feeding needs. In the case of ornamental plants, CRF’s will continue to release nutrition during the transit from grower to wholesaler or market, retailer and long after it reached the consumer. Reduced environmental impact. Probably the major benefit of the CRF is an environmental one. Since the nutrients are released slowly in a frequency when a plant actually uses it, the amount of nutrients being leached in water is minimal. Especially where crops are overhead irrigated and the run-off is not collected or recycled. The Macadamia industry is booming and relies heavily on controlled release fertilizer to ensure crop quality and uniform plants. The citrus producers benefit largely from the premium trace elements mixed in with the NPK in each granule. Osmocote has been used by the forestry seedling growers for many years. Locally flower nurseries are benefitting from improved yield and quality using CRF. With a view to increase food production more technically fine-tuned manage­ ment is required. Therefore it is essential for the fresh produce, fruit, berry and flower grower to change to a CRF like Osmocote with all the benefits outlined above. 

Probably the major benefit of the CRF is an environmental one. Since the nutrients are released slowly in a frequency when a plant actually uses it, the amount of nutrients being leached in water is minimal.

Shopping greens in a suburban supermarket.

Why add Calcium via the roots?


U N D E R C O V E R  F A R M I N G

Conditions that suppress the uptake of water also limit the uptake of Ca, illustrating the need for sound fertigation practices. Cell walls in roots suberize with age, making it impermeable for the large Ca ion, explaining why Ca uptake is confined to young root tips only. Young root tips can be damaged at high salt concentrations that may develop between irrigations. Since high EC levels also restrict the uptake of water (and Ca), an EC increase from drip to drain should not be more than 50%. If so, increase the irrigation frequency or Good balance in ph, Calcium and pulse volume or lower the EC of the well-analysed grow medium applied solution. Low Ca levels in nutrient solutions will invariably lead to Ca deficiencies. However, the ratios between the cations in solution are also extremely important. High levels of ammonium (NH4), potassium and magnesium suppress the uptake of Ca, especially in summer with hot root media. Ammonium is the strongest Ca suppressor. Peppers are extremely sensitive to high ammonium levels, since blossom-end-rot (BER) can develop on the fruit with as little as 0.5 mmolc NH4 L-1 in the nutrient solution (7 mg/kg NH4-N). With NH4 at 1.0 mmolc L-1, as recommended for tomatoes, the incidence of BER on peppers may be as high as 60%. Most growers do not realize that commercial calcium nitrate (distributed by most of the big fertilizer companies) contains 1.7% ammonium. By using this calcium source at normal levels, NH4 will be applied at about 0.75 mmolc L-1. The recommended NH4 level in a pepper nutrient solution is only 0.3 mmolc NH4 L-1.



Insufficient water movement to low transpiring tissues

On hot days or low relative humidity conditions, water mainly moves from roots to leaves for evaporative cooling, carrying Ca to the end of the transpiration stream where it accumulates to form hard and brittle leaves. Concurrently, R40.00 (RSA) VAT & Postage incl.


• Western Cape Cucumber Producer of Note • The Farmer and his Market Agency • Manage with Advanced Technologies • Controlled Release Fertilizer Benefits


Vol 15 No 2





YouR guide To iNTeNsive FARMiNg u gids ToT iNTeNsieWe BoeRdeRY

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movement of water (and Ca) to low transpiring organs decrease where cell walls may then collapse. Where plant organs are permanently wilted or permanently turgid, a lack of diurnal fluxes restricts movement of Ca-rich xylem sap into the organs. Root pressure should be used to force Ca-rich water into moderately wilted organs each night to prevent calcium deficiencies. The last An obvious shortage of Calcium and water irrigation must provide a moist and Ca-rich root medium at night. with high pH In a trial, the incidence of BER on peppers decreased when high nutrient solution temperatures were reduced in a water culture system. The oxygen content of the water increased at lower temperatures, improving water (and Ca) uptake. Substrates should thus be well aerated to avoid water logging. The disastrous result of poor water and grow medium management

Insufficient functional Ca

Once fixed to plant tissue, Ca can not be moved to other organs. Ca is also used to neutralize organic acids, produced at high respiration rates, forming insoluble Ca-salts such as Ca-oxalate. To prevent this loss of functional Ca, high respiration rates should be lowered in mid summer by shading, to reduce radiation and plant temperatures.

Foliar Ca-applications?

Micronutrients may be applied with foliar sprays since small quantities are needed, easily absorbed by leaves. Being a macro nutrient, large quantities of Ca is needed. Ca is the biggest macro nutrient cation and can only enter via young plant tissue. Only a very small percentage of foliar applied Ca is absorbed, but it can not be moved from the leaves to developing fruit. Ca has no reverse gear, it moves via the transpiration steam in one way only. Avoid Ca foliar sprays; rather manage the interacting factors discussed in the three scenarios above. This is an extract from the book: ‘Nutrient solutions and Greenhouse management’ only distributed by the Combrink family trust: Web page: http://; E-mail: 

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n order to manage the uptake and translocation of calcium (Ca), the following should be taken into account:

U N D E R C O V E R  F A R M I N G

Calcium (Ca) is the only nutrient that is totally phloem immobile, it moves in the xylem with the transpiration stream, also driven by root pressure. Ca binds with polysaccharides to strengthen cell walls, producing firm plant tissue and good fruit quality. Symptoms of Ca-deficiency develop due to the collapse of cell walls, followed by a dark discoloration. Too much Ca, on the other hand, may stiffen cell walls that may induce fruit cracking.

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Ucf MayJune 2018  
Ucf MayJune 2018