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Demedts-Demey nursery resumes operations on Mother's Day

"The first Flemish cherries again received a warm welcome"

This year too, the first Flemish cherries are once again available at Demedts - De Mey nursery. While the first cherries last year came from the greenhouses of Benoit Demedts and his wife Marie-Anne De Mey, this year they are even earlier. "We were able to pick the first of the season on May 10, allowing us to have them in store just in time for Mother's Day weekend," says the grower from Gits in Flanders.

A few years ago, Benoit decided to dedicate a remaining part of the greenhouse to cherry cultivation. A fairly unique move in Flanders, where initially even the advisors from pcfruit could not say whether it would work. "At first, it was even a question of whether it would be profitable. After some contact with Dutch colleagues, who already had experience with it, we decided to take the plunge," Benoit recounts. "Last year we had our first full harvest, where we were told to expect about a kilo per tree, but we far exceeded that. This year, the productions look considerably better than last year. Next season we expect to be at the peak of production, so you could definitely say it has been a success story."

This season thus kicked off around Mother's Day weekend. "The outdoor crops naturally bloomed two weeks earlier than last year, and we noticed this under glass as well. We had warm nights in January, which made everything go a lot faster. We didn't add extra heat, but just let nature take its course, so being able to start at such an ideal moment is very nice. Moreover, they look qualitatively very good. We work with different varieties, but in terms of size, we can only be satisfied. The Burlat, which we started with, are very nice, thick cherries and the Sweet Aryana, which we are now picking, is a bit smaller, but also looks very nice," Benoit continues.

Following French supply
So, nothing but satisfaction on the supply side, but the grower is also very positive on the demand side. "You can see that people are really waiting for them. We wanted to be less in the spotlight this year, but still, we received many requests. For example, we already had some cherries in the store around Valentine's Day, which we had bought in the market. Then, customers came to us asking when we would start with our own cherries. We also had the French supply for a while, but then you see that people prefer to wait for our own Belgian supply, despite the fact that the French cherries and ours do not differ much in taste and price."

"Mother's Day weekend was finally the first harvest. And they were again received with great enthusiasm. By the afternoon, they were sold out. Even at prices around €22.50 per kilo, they fly off the shelves. We follow the French supply in this, because, as said, we do not differ much in taste. These are also a bit more expensive this year, because there is less French supply, but still a lot of demand. I think we could even ask a bit more for our first own produce, but I think we are already working with very nice prices. It should also not become too expensive. They are worth this and people are willing to pay for it. And rightly so, if you ask me," laughs Benoit.

For the time being, Demedts - De Mey nursery mainly focuses on their own sales. "I think with the volumes of this season we can still nicely supply our own customers and also some local stores that want to feature them. We're already quite busy with that, and you shouldn't run before you can walk. Next year, we can then look at whether we want to expand further. I think we will then be working with productions that might allow us to collaborate with wholesaler Bouvry, as we already do with our strawberries. In terms of volumes, however, this is not yet comparable, but we'll see where it leads."

"For now, it's very nice that we've started again," Benoit continues. "With the cherries, we'll continue for another month or two. The first Kordia's, our last variety, are now starting to color, so I suppose we'll be busy with them when the first cherries from outdoor cultivation hit the market. We will then continue with the outdoor cherries. These are not from our own cultivation, but we then buy them from colleagues."

Switching to our own apricots
"In our own cultivation, we will switch to our first own apricots, which also looks very promising. It's actually a similar scenario as with the cherries. At the moment we are working with the French supply, which is also tasty, but we are already getting questions about the apricots from Flemish soil. These will also be relatively early, as we expect to be able to offer them around mid/end of June. The size is already good, and the yield looks good, so it's going to be a beautiful summer. A wonderful time of the year, where we get something new in the assortment every week; cherries, strawberries, red currants, raspberries, but greenhouse cabbages and early potatoes as well," concludes Benoit.

For more information:
Benoit Demedts
Kwekerij Demedts - De Mey
Middenstraat 97z
8830 Gits, Belgium
+32 479 69 08 67
[email protected]

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