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UK Mushroom Growers Association Annual Conference

This year saw the 60th and unfortunately possible the last MGA conference which will be held at Warwick HRI Conference Centre, and also the Mushroom Unit at Wellesbourne in Warwickshire.

Published in Mushroom Business 13, October 2005

12th to 13th September 2005
Organised by MGA, MATA and Warwick HRI

A total of 75 people attended this year’s conference, and the trade’s exhibition.
This followed the MGA Annual General Meeting and conference dinner the day before in the Stratford Moat House Hotel. It was a time of sadness for those people who have struggled over the past ten years to maintain an active and vibrant industry association, but with the UK industry in decline, the numbers of supporting growers and other members have dwindled down to a point where funds are insufficient to properly manage and organise the association as it should.

However the programme for the day was extremely interesting and informative. In lecture sessions, the audience was bought up to date on the work currently being done at HRI with regard to both pest and disease problems. These subjects were present to the audience by Dr David Chandle who talked about integrated pest management; Georgios Papdopoulos about problems which occurred because of the break-down of Prochloraz through microbial activity; and finally Professor Peter Mills who spoke about the work being done in Genome sequencing and what this may do for us in the future.

The “Sinden Award” Lecture was given this year by Dr Helen Grogan and that was entitled “ Mushroom Disease Research, some key issues for successful control”
Helen detailed her time spent over the last 14 years at HRI and the work she had been involved in during that period.  This took in the work done on Trichoderma, Cobweb,   Verticillium and Mycogone, and of course her most recent work in first of all helping to identify the new Virus X, and then working on how best to control it.
Helen is also moving on to pastures new this year, and she is leaving Warwick HRI shortly to take up a new appointment back in her home country of Ireland, with Teagasc.    This means that the Mushroom Diagnostic Clinic at HRI Wellesbourne will no longer be operating, and only the current work on Virus X identification will be continued for the time being.

The last part of the morning programme was an exciting talk given by Mr Nicholas Marston and Mr Alastair Brooks of K.G.Fruits Ltd.  K.G. Fruits are the largest company working in the soft fruit industry in the UK. 
K.P.Fruits operates a grower-based business both in the UK and from Spain, plus importing from the USA, and are currently supplying most of the big multiples with berries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and soon blueberries.  They talked of their success over the past 10 years and showed how they had approached the building of their business.  The audiences was also treated to a tasting session where they were able to compare the differences certain varieties offered to flavour, and this was an area which was due to be fully exploited in the near future with their own strains of both strawberries and raspberries.    High value, specialist quality produce was seen to add value to both the grower and the company.

Following the lecture sessions the delegates had lunch on the mushroom unit where a poster session and exhibits from a number of trades companies took place.