Graduating with a BSc (Hons.) in Agriculture from Seale-Hayne Agricultural College (Plymouth Uni.), my first few years of agricultural experience was dominated by livestock, with some arable thrown in for good measure; coming from the west country I had expected that to continue.
However, my career took me into the area of crop production, specialising in the growing and harvesting of salad crops, including ‘baby leaf’ crops, vegetables and herbs for the U.K. market. This path gave me the opportunity to live and work in a number of countries including Zimbabwe and Kenya and also 12 years in Portugal; also gaining experience in the start-up and development of production sites and the growing of novel crops.
Joining FAST in 2008 saw me transition from grower to top fruit advisor. Based in Faversham, Kent, I visit farms in the South East and East Anglia. Since joining FAST, I have been able to develop specialisms and introduce new ideas. These include:
- Harvest dates prediction for cherry and apple (Gala and Braeburn)
- Fruit size growth curves
- Introduction of fruit Dry Matter content; development as a tool to rank orchard in order of storage potential and assess fruit quality
- Crop maturity, fruit quality and post-harvest
- Gala clones; assessing performance at harvest
- Multi – stem trees; orchard design for the future
- Pesticide application