Depa Fruit bvba is a young cherry growing company located in Limburg, Belgium. In 2011 Peter Durlet and his wife Ector Annick also launched a cherry tree nursery. In addition, they run a separate company named Depa Services in which they prune cherry trees, give advice, and sort and sell cherries for various customers both at home and abroad. "Because we sort, pack and market for other companies, the volume grows each year. Therefore, new customers, for both cherry trees and cherries, are always welcome here."
Growing, sorting, packaging and marketing
Durlet has 15 acres and has been selling his own cherries to various countries for two years now. "We also sort for third parties as well. Some choose to sell the cherries themselves or bring them to an auction, and others leave the marketing to us. I think it is important that as growers we can work together in various fields. I hope that more growers become open to that in the future." Currently, Depa produces approximately 300,000 kilos. "Our growers still have many young trees, so in the coming years we expect to be harvesting and sorting more, both within our own company and with our customers. In the coming years we will also be investing in roofs." The harvest will begin in the coming weeks. "We start with the 'Bellise' variety, that is one of the best early varieties. The common varieties that we have are the Kordia and Regina, but these come later in the season. We are positive about the year. The cherries are hanging in reasonably good condition. Everything will depend on the weather."Peter in his cherry orchard Nursery
Peter has a lot of experience in this profession and has worked at other nurseries in the past. "I wanted to specialize in cherry trees and grow the best. We started with 5,000 trees and today we are at 100,000 to 150,000 trees per year." Peter is convinced that cherry tree growers need to do more than just deliver trees. "In addition to sales, we want to support growers throughout the entire process of planting, maintenance and post-harvesting. That gives an added value to the growers." Durlat says that everything has become more expensive in recent years, "The root stock, virus free seed material, personnel and the like. If we were a smaller, specialized cherry tree nursery we would be able to handle everything on time and correctly. The sorting of trees is crucial in this case. Here, one or two people handle this so optimal sorting can be achieved in order to be able to deliver the best group of cherry trees."
Peter admits that the competition is fierce, "Southern European countries often offer trees at lower prices, unfortunately tree quality is not as good, the pureness of the breed is uncertain and virus status is debatable. The growers only notice this after the purchase has been made. It is important to approach certain things at the right time. Many nurseries harvest their trees in October already, but I let nature takes it's course and wait until November. The leaves fall off by themselves, this is something that should not happen artificially." He supplies to Belgium and exports trees to various countries such as the Netherlands, Switzerland, England and Norway. "It is striking that the Belgian, German and Dutch customers often ask for two year old cut trees. In Eastern and Southern Europe demand for one year old trees is much higher. Looking forward, the more intense cultivation of 3,000 to 5,000 trees per acre will increase in order to obtain higher production and bigger cherries."