Tickets are now on sale for the key industry event, which is expected to attract more than 1,300 growers with over 120 exhibitors profiling the latest innovations and developments, helping growers to become more efficient and to push the boundary on both yields and quality.

Following the extended spell of dry weather, and with new abstraction licences coming into force, irrigation will be a hot topic; and growers can see the latest innovation in the Water Efficient Technologies (WET) Centre. Opened in 2017, it features a fully automated Precision Irrigation Package, which has proven to reduce the use of water, fertilisers, pesticides and energy by 20% while also delivering up to a 10% increase in strawberry yields.

As usual, the latest issues will be discussed at the NFU Forum, with practical advice to see growers though the changing political landscape. This year the topics include: building resilience before Brexit, and the robots are coming, or are they? The forums will update growers on changing agricultural policy and its likely impact, as well as offering ideas on how they can build resilience. Visitors can also explore how agri-tech could be the answer to protecting and growing fruit post-Brexit.

NIAB EMR is holding a forum looking at precision growing of soft fruit, encompassing new innovations and technologies to enhance crop productivity, resilience and quality.

Despite some challenges associated with Brexit, these are buoyant times for the viticulture sector, with English wine releases reaching a record high in 2017. Those wishing to improve their knowledge on market trends, profitability and business planning for vineyard establishment should attend the Wines of Great Britain (WineGB) forum: Economic viability of viticulture.

“There is a lot of interest in wine production and the sector is growing rapidly,” says Jo Cowderoy, general secretary at WineGB. “The seminar, for anyone interested in planting a vineyard, will cover key factors in planning and budgeting, as well as establishment and consideration of the product and sales.”

The ever-popular research tours will include the research vineyard, WET centre and concept pear orchard.

“NIAB EMR’s showpiece demonstration feature, the WET Centre, is in its first full year of production, and we are anticipating a heavy crop of MallingTM Centenary,” said Prof. Mario Caccamo, managing director at NIAB EMR.

The research vineyard will be open and those on the tour will be able to see the new accessories to the trellis system, the frost protection system and the fertigation system.

Another tour will focus on pollination within strawberry crops, during which Dr Michelle Fountain will update attendees on the ‘Bumbleplus’ project. This aims to improve the pollination of commercial strawberry crops by bumblebees using caffeine.

Finally, the concept pear orchard tour will provide an update on the cropping levels that will likely be experienced in the 2018 season.

Visitors to the event can log their CPD points with up to six BASIS and two NRoSO points up for grabs.

“Fruit Focus is the premier event for the fruit industry,” said event director Jon Day. “It is a one-stop shop for any grower wanting to keep ahead of the game and learn about new exciting technologies. From machinery to the latest varieties it’s a wonderful showcase for the industry.”

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