The Plum Demonstration Centre is a centre of excellence for Tree fruit growers, demonstrating best practice, the latest practical research and the implementation of new technology. The centre, part funded by AHDB and located at NIAB EMR in Kent, provides an opportunity to showcase applied research in a commercial setting. Our recent research focus has been on integrated pest and disease management projects, seeking to develop novel approaches to controlling the principal pests and diseases faced by growers.
Existing activities at the centre include the demonstration of plums being grown on different rootstocks, using different training systems and mechanical weed control and root pruning for vigour management. The centre is also running trials comparing plums grown outdoors and under protection, 23 new plum cultivars and different fertigation techniques.
The orchard has significant potential to not only demonstrate ‘best practice’ in plum production, but also the results from a range of other tree fruit research projects. For instance, our research into spotted wing drosophila (SWD) control in cherries has highlighted how best to monitor for SWD adults; this is being put into practice at the Plum Demonstration Centre. Further SWD research on lengthening spray intervals and the use of bait sprays can also be demonstrated at this orchard in future. Further, the results of research into the enhancement of beneficial insects in apple orchards (Project TF 223) using wild flower strips, hoverfly attractants and earwig refuges (Wignests) is being implemented in the orchard, and records of our findings will be made available on the Plum Demonstration Centre page in due course. You can find out more about enhancing beneficial insects in our recent webinar.
There is space around the orchard to allow for future expansion and the site could extend to include other tree fruit crops including apples, pears and cherries, allowing us to demonstrate the application of future research in a commercial setting.