David M Berry, 10th June 2019
We were fortunate to be able to visit the Shandong plant breeding division of Aohata, Japan’s biggest jam manufacturer. They have done a lot of work on strawberry DNA and hope to have a variety coming that will double the yield of Honeoye. I will believe that when I see it, I think. Meanwhile we enjoyed sampling the latest developments including their light-centred peach-flavoured strawberries. We have been growing a small quantity of these white strawberries ourselves for a couple of years
The season in Shandong and the other main strawberry growing provinces is likely to be reduced due to very warm weather from the 18th of May. Prior to that the Spring was cool and just enough rain had fallen. The crop looked good but was all over in Shandong by 30th May rather than extending until the 10th of June as happens in some years. Fruit quality is nice. After strawberries we are straight into apricots.
Our field staff have adopted a novel new picking aid this year. With a wicker seat strapped to their derrières they can ease tired legs and hips.
Our strawberry washing line can process 20 MT of
strawberries a day.
The polytunnel day-neutral strawberries were still producing having started in December.
This is a long production season by any standard, with each plant producing more than 500 grams of fruit.
New organic products
Part of our Nelson block farm is producing organic vegetables for a particular customer this year and all of these vegetables are doing extremely well.
Our flash pasteuriser is now installed. This bit of kit enables the production of high-quality pasteurised purees for industry, retail and food service.
There is a new rage in China for frozen fruit pieces as an addition to tea.
Many shops have sprung up where you can buy your tall glass of tea together with sliced limes, lemons and all sorts of other fruits inside. The presentation is very attractive.
Another recent development is the range of fruit cakes sold in cafes such as Starbucks. We are pleased to have worked with our customers on the development of many fruit preparations to garnish these cakes and pastries.
We have also been working with a large Shanghai distributor on high-end fruit purees in 1 kilo tubs – with or without sugar or other sweeteners – for the hotel and catering industries.
Please get in touch if you think we may be able to assist in any of your projects.
To close as always the striking thing on a visit to China is to witness the progress made and the spirit of the people.
The hard work is now resulting in increased leisure time as well.
To foster a feel-good sense when shopping and strolling downtown of an evening Qingdao city has put on a light show.