Lander Van den Eynde is a young greenhouse grower in the Antwerp region. The greenhouses of the Van den Eynde family are run by the 4th generation of the family and are a 15-minute drive from the BelOrta auction. They grow cucumbers in greenhouses on a surface area of some 2.1 ha; half has assimilation lighting.
Three crop rotations a year
Lander: "I come from a family of farmers. My grandparents grew tomatoes. In 2007 my dad added aubergines, but when I joined the company in 2014 it turned out I was allergic to the plants! That’s why we started growing cucumbers and we changed to three crop rotations a year with an eye to optimum yield and quality. The greenhouses are fully automated; I can do anything on my phone: switch the pumps on and off, open and closing the windows, etc. I immediately receive an alert if there’s a problem. And sometimes we have to get up at night to adapt the temperature.”
Each cucumber is different
The cucumber has a very short cycle. Even if planted at the end of October, production starts mid November. A cucumber plant can grow some 60 cm a week. However, after two months of harvesting the quality deteriorates fast and the plants have to be renewed. Cucumbers are harvested when they weigh 350 - 400 g. It takes about a week before a picker learns how to decide which cucumbers are the right weight to pick since each one is different in length and thickness. Following up the plants takes a lot of work. A shoot has to be removed in each leaf axil, depending on the number of fruits that we want to harvest in the next few weeks.”
From field to auction
For the packaging, that is done in a large packing centre next to the greenhouse, the cucumbers are sorted and packed in Flandria boxes that are covered with film to extend the cucumbers’ shelf life. However, since the BelOrta warehouses are only a 15-minute drive away, the Van den Eynde family did not feel it was necessary to invest in cold stores. Every morning, six days a week, they take the harvest to the auction to guarantee that the product is as fresh as possible. Every year around 2,200,000 cucumbers are brought to the auction, with production peaking in summer.
FLANDRIA CUCUMBERS ARE AVAILABLE FROM BELORTA, COÖPERATIE HOOGSTRATEN AND REO VEILING.