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Suffolk tomato operation imposes restrictions as disease reaches Belgium

PUBLISHED: 10:37 08 March 2019

Richard Lewis with some of his newly-planted tomatoes.  Picture: PAUL GEATER

Richard Lewis with some of his newly-planted tomatoes. Picture: PAUL GEATER

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A new giant tomato operation based at Ipswich is restricting access to its site in the wake of the worldwide spread of a plant disease.

Although Tomato Brown Rugose Virus hasn’t reached the UK’s shores, it has recently been detected as far north as Belgium, said Richard Lewis, who is horticultural director at Sterling Suffolk at Great Blakenham.

As a result, the hi-tech glasshouses, inside which a quarter of a million tomato plants were planted in December 2018, is putting in place precautionary restrictions to prevent the spread of the disease.

MORE – Giant new glasshouse operation at Ipswich gets ready for arrival of first tomato plants

The virus does not affect human health but does cause blotchiness in tomatoes, he said.

“It affects fruit quality,” said Richard. “It makes a lot of the fruit unsaleable.”

The operation shut its doors on March 6 and put restrictions in place so that those travelling from other tomato operations don’t spread the disease.

The semi-closed glasshouse, which started operations in December 2018, is designed to produce more fruit using less energy.

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