Careers in Horticulture

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Introduction to the Protected Fruit Sector

Ireland’s growers produce about 8000 tonnes of fresh strawberries per year worth an estimated 43 million Euro. The English cultivar ‘Malling Centenary’ is the most popular cultivar grown. The Dutch cultivar ‘Elsanta’ had been the most popular cultivar grown for the 40 years. Protected strawberry production is now the mainstay of the soft fruit industry in Ireland. Protective cropping has a number of distinct advantages for the grower including;

  • allowing for the supply of fruit outside the traditional short season of June and July.
  • Fruit quality is much higher, which is demanded by the consumer today.

Strawberries can now be supplied, and are in demand from March right through to November. To meet this demand many growers use a combination of growing systems.

The soft fruit sector is dominated by strawberry production, which accounts for 89% of soft fruit production value. The key trend in strawberry production is increasing production area in glasshouse and in fixed/mobile polytunnels, and a move away from outdoor production and production under cloches. Production value of strawberries is €28.3 million, a 7% increase since the 2008 census (€26.5 million in 2008) and a 30% increase since 2004 (€19.6 million in 2004).

There are 57 (outdoor and protected) strawberry growers in 2012 (down 7% since 2008) with a total production area of 169 hectares (down 25% since 2008). The primary counties for strawberry production are Dublin and Wexford. Strawberry production is primarily under protected structures, especially polythene structures. The sector is dominated by larger growers. Of the 47 protected strawberry growers, the seven largest growers account for 77% of protected strawberry production area. 73% of protected strawberry production area is under polythene structures and 27% is under glass.

Click here to download report …

Report on Ireland’s Thriving Soft Fruit Sector …