Greenhouse Asian eggplant resource online

July 09, 2018
Written by Greenhouse Canada
Vineland launched the Feeding Diversity microsite earlier this year. Compiled from the results of their five-year research program, this online resource aims to help growers try crops from different parts of the world and see how they could be incorporated into their operation.

For greenhouse growers, the sections of the website on Asian long eggplant and Indian round eggplants could be of particular interest. Though these crops are traditionally grown in the field in Asia, a major component of the research looked at practices for hydroponic greenhouse production.

“The site provides all of the basic information needed to grow the crop, and is of particular value to those who have never grown eggplant before,” notes Dr. Michael Brownbridge, director of horticultural production systems at Vineland Research and Innovation Centre. “Even those experienced in (Italian) eggplant production will find aspects they can use. Asian eggplants are different enough that the information will be of value.”

As it turns out, many of the recommended production practices for greenhouse eggplants are similar to those of tomato, including the use of disease-tolerant tomato rootstock, the need for similar nutrient requirements, and using similar bee release rates for pollination.

Several greenhouse operations are growing primarily ‘baby’ eggplant varieties such as ‘Grafitti’ and smaller white eggplants seen in stores, notes Brownbridge. To the best of his knowledge though, greenhouse producers have yet to grow Asian varieties on a commercial scale.

“It is white space for someone willing to make the investment,” he says. “Retail stores like it and, I believe, would be happy to buy it assuming the quality and consistency of supply were there – it is a way to create year-round supply of these types of eggplant, and will offset imports. A win-win opportunity for grower and retail.”

In addition to variety selection, the site also makes recommendations for seedling production, rootstock selection, transplanting and plant maintenance, fertigation, pest and disease control, harvest – all critical aspects to the crops’ success.

There’s also a calculator to help growers estimate the costs of production, based on various inputs and other practices.

To interested growers, Brownbridge says “Go for it”. They have an agronomy technician available to discuss the technical aspects of production, and the research centre can connect interested parties with buyers from the retail sector.

Visit the microsite here

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