Bringing together more than 120 leading exhibitors, and expecting around 1,300 visitors, doors will open on Wednesday 20 July, at EMR.

“This will be a landmark event,” says event director Jon Day of Haymarket Exhibitions, “marking the start of a new era for Fruit Focus and the fresh produce sector with the many benefits that the NIAB/ EMR partnership will bring.”

Looking forward to hosting the event for the first time, Tina Barsby, NIAB chief executive agrees: “Continued innovation in plant science is essential to maintain the competitiveness of UK agriculture and horticulture, and to help address the global challenges of food security and climate change. The new partnership between NIAB and EMR provides resilience, scale and the capacity for long term investment. It offers within a single organisation the research expertise to support progressive crop production at all levels, now within both the arable and fresh produce sectors. We will be looking forward to sharing the benefit of our technical information and advice with visitors to Fruit Focus.”

Top fruit to vines

As the fruit industry’s leading technical event, which also features vines, Fruit Focus will showcase all aspects of pre and post harvest technology, machinery and equipment – and includes agronomy and business advice, right through to delivery to the retailer.

“Fruit Focus is the perfect opportunity for growers of soft fruit, orchard fruit and vines to discuss the changes and challenges we are all facing – and catch up with the latest developments,” says Jon Day. “We are showcasing some of the most sophisticated technology of any sector in the UK and being able to meet and question the people behind these innovations is invaluable.”

NFU forums – five key issues

This year’s NFU Fruit Forums will discuss and debate five key topics. Chaired by NFU horticulture and potatoes board chairman Ali Capper, the first two sessions will tackle the key issues facing the sector, “Labour costs and the loss of crop protection options.” Guy Smith, NFU vice president will be discussing the issues around crop protection, while Dr Chris Hartfield, chief horticulture adviser will be covering the living wage. “We recognise these two huge issues have a tremendous impact on the horticultural industry, particularly the fruit sector and we will be highlighting how the NFU is lobbying in both Westminster and Brussels to reduce the impacts and create better outcomes for growers.”

Under the heading “Supply chains and consumer demand: fit for the future” and following the recently launched NFU report “Fit for the future,” Lee Abbey, NFU horticulture adviser will be looking at how the government and the supply chain, including retailers, can help improve the consumption of fruit and vegetables by consumers. Speakers will also be talking about the progress of the grocery code adjudicator, and providing an update on the “NFU fruit and veg pledge,” which seeks to improve relationships between retailers and growers.

Dr Julien Lecourt will explore the topic of “Enhancing UK viticulture through world class science” followed by Jo Cowderoy, United Kingdom Vineyards Association (UKVA) general secretary talking about the many opportunities that UK viticulture offer.
Changes in trickle irrigation licensing will be explained by Henry Leveson-Gower, who leads the UK’s water abstraction reform at DEFRA and will inform growers on what they can expect.

Special insight

Fruit Focus’ venue at EMR offers the opportunity of an insight into the work of the research station, the site of advances in fruit production for over a century.
This year’s tours include:

  • Dr Julien Lecourt, “Viticulture research at NIAB EMR” – showcasing the research vineyard and showing how pre-harvest factors and management affect plant physiology and post-harvest fruit quality;
  • Dr Robert Saville, “European apple canker control” – including the use of biological soil amendments to improve tree establishment and a demonstration of a tree injection device used to test various chemical, biological and defence eliciting treatments;
  • Graham Caspell, head of farm and horticultural services at NIAB EMR, “Concept pear orchard update” – an update to determine which of four different planting regimes is most productive in the British climate.

Live demos

In the live demonstration arena visitors will be able to see machinery in action with live commentary. Manufacturers taking part include JC Machinery, who will be exhibiting the Imants RootPruner and Spader 27SX150R – both machines with key roles in the growing industry with the RootPruner eliminating loss of valuable water and nutrients, while the Spader 27SX150R offers high quality land cultivation.

Other machinery on display will include models from Kirkland UK and specialist suppliers NP Seymour Ltd the latter of whom will be bringing driverless tractor technology to the UK in the form of the ProbotIQ Xpert system which, as an add on to Fendt Vario tractors, uses easy to operate patented Teach and Playback technology to allow the tractor to drive and operate autonomously.

Vines to wines

A big part of the event, Vines to Wines, organised by English Wine Producers and the UKVA, provides an ideal opportunity for visitors to find out about the many opportunities the wine producing sector has to offer.

“Both newcomers and established growers have relaxed, easy access to some of the finest experts in the business,” says Jo Cowderoy, general secretary of the UKVA. “It’s a great place to gather information, catch up with the latest innovations, top up your technical skills, meet colleagues and discover new opportunities – all in one very enjoyable day.”

This year’s vineyard workshops will focus on technical skills with independent adviser and ex-deputy chairman of the UKVA Roger Marchbank advising on “Summer pruning and canopy management” and William Biddulph advising the regular monitoring of vineyards for pests and diseases in his talk “Disease monitoring and economic viability”.

Tickets for Fruit Focus cost £10 and are available online or on the day. Visitors can earn both BASIS and NRoSO points for attending the event.