News 2019

A visit from Latvia

On Friday 18th October 2019, Dr. Janis Lepsis presented a lecture on “Horticulture in the Northern climate of Latvia and the Baltic countries”.

Picture:  Klein-Altendorf © A. Engel
Picture: Klein-Altendorf © A. Engel

The crops grown there include apple with ca. 5,000 ha, followed by sea buckthorn and Japanese quince (for processing to chips), strawberry, red and black currant, cranberry and blueberries as well as ca. 5000 ha vegetables.

Janis Lepsis has been a visiting scientist to Klein-Altendorf in the past since 1998, documented by a range of publications both in English and German in refereed journals. Dr M. Blanke acted as external examiner of his PhD thesis at Pure.

The work at the Latvian Institute of Horticulture in Pure includes selection of scab-resistant, highly aromatic old apple cultivars from their gene bank of ca. 100 apple varieties for cultivation under the harsh Nordic climate; climate change led to an increase in hail storms and summer drought.
The Institute in Pure is a popular partner in EU projects, which constitute ca. 95% of its revenues. The Nordic climate also provides many certified organic horticultural products for the European and particularly German market.

(Micro-)plastics in horticulture - from cradle to grave: GKL provides first data

The attractive topic of “Circular economy of plastics” attracted many participants to this year’s GKL annual meeting in September 2019 in Dernbach near Koblenz.

The meeting was led by Professor Karl Schockert, president of the GKL society, with Martin Balmer (DLR-RP) and Michael Blanke (University of Bonn) attending as KoGa members.  The two day meeting covered the whole range of (micro-) plastics in horticulture from its use in fruit and vegetable crops, means to increase its longevity as well as ways of collecting and recycling used horticultural plastic waste (polyolefines) into new products.

TOMRES meeting with stakeholders and joint SolAce/TOMRES stakeholder event

During the 5th internal TOMRES meetings in Dundee, Scotland, partners and participating stakeholders were informed about current outcomes of the different project fields, such as the ranking of resilient tomatoes, root structure differences, supporting plant hormones and biostimulants, and optimized management strategies.

Experimental data of field as well as demonstration experiments were collected for a preliminary decision support system, while a consumer and farmer assay was analysed to estimate the impact of TOMRES tomatoes for climate protection.

Besides several scientific publications, also technical papers were published in farm magazines in Germany and Romania, while the ‘systematic map protocol’ for data analysis was prepared in UK. Further manuscript with essential outcomes will follow, also on the basis of ‘practice abstracts’ from the European Innovation Partnership "Agricultural productivity and sustainability" (EIP-Agri).

Finally, the highlight of this year’s autumn meeting was the TOMRES stakeholder event resulting in valuable and constructive suggestions by representatives of involved companies and associations, such as BASF, CISC, FoodDrinkEurope and IGZ Großbeeren. An excellent highlight to finalize the get together in Dundee was the joint stakeholder event and breakout sessions together with partners from the Horizon 2020 project SolAce. Interesting as well as important topics for both projects were discussed in a broad framework, while specific tasks per work packages were also targeted in small groups to intensify the discussion. 

Watch out for the next meeting in spring 2020 taking place in Naples, Italy.

Final meeting of the Adapt2Clima project on combating climate change effects on agriculture under Mediterranean climate

The final meeting of the “Adapt2Clima” EU project in Heraklion, Greece, in June 2019 attracted nearly 160 participants from around 30 countries involved in mitigating climate change effects on agriculture. The meeting covered modelling, decision making, risk analysis and vulnerability of agriculturally relevant regions with Mediterranean climate.

For fruit trees, the weather at flowering was identified as one of the prevailing hot spots, when flower pollination is either hampered by cold-wet weather preventing honey bees from flying or pollen sticking together in hot weather, while storms with heavy rainfall during the summer adversely affect fruit development and induce fruit drop.

Dr M. Blanke of INRES - University of Bonn presented the results of the cooperation with DEMETER, Naoussa, Greece. Therein, the effects of climate change on flowering advancement of sweet cherry were compared at the two locations, including the resulting risk of a late frost and joint adaptation strategies.

Tomato stress test during the Summer Event of University of Bonn, Germany, June 2019.

TOMRES tomatoes confirmed their stress resilience during a hot summer day.

Impression of the Summer Event. Jan Ellenberger and Simone Röhlen-Schmittgen presented  current outcomes of TOMRES by example of stressed tomato plants.
Impression of the Summer Event. Jan Ellenberger and Simone Röhlen-Schmittgen presented current outcomes of TOMRES by example of stressed tomato plants.

At sunny temperatures above 35°C visitors were informed about tomatoes coping well under both water and nutrient shortage as well as optimal growing conditions. To visualize differences between plants that grow better under water/nutrient deficit compared with plants doing worse, fluorescence measurements were shown. Based on this technique, accessing the fluorescence signal of the green leaf component ‘chlorophyll’, plant fitness can be quantified. In the context of TOMRES, scientists use this method to select tolerant tomatoes to make tomato production more sustainable.


BLE International Workshop on Quality Control of Fruit and Vegetables

The BLE organizes every second year the International Meeting on Quality Control of Fruit and Vegetables. The meeting is directed towards inspectors of governmental authorities as well as interested persons from industry from Germany and the delivering countries.

In excess of 200 participants from 20 countries met at this year’s BLE workshop 25-27 March 2019 on fruit marketing standards at Stresemann Institute in Bonn. This year’s 32nd workshop was organised and led by Dr. Bickelmann and her team. The topics ranged from means of reducing food waste and plastic packing to internet food sales. The topics were chosen in response to public criticism on excessively strict, cosmetically-oriented marketing standards, which restrict the harvest and sale of class II fruit and can lead to waste in the field and the fruit supply chain. Alternatives, presented at the meeting, to plastic packaging included laser-lettering of fruit.


More information is available under

TOMRES Newsletter No. 1 and Consumer Survey

The first newsletter of the TOMRES Project can now be accessed through the project website: Read about the activities of project partners and early achievements.


The newsletter also contains a link to a European consumer survey: Please take the time (10 minutes) to respond to the questions and thus contribute to the development of resource-efficient tomato varieties.

German annual Hort Congress - DGG-at Humboldt University in Berlin

The participants from Bonn University, © Dr. Michael Blanke, University of Bonn
The participants from Bonn University, © Dr. Michael Blanke, University of Bonn

In the first week of March, 277 horticulture scientists met for the annual congress of the German Association of Horticultural Science (DGG) at the historic Humboldt University in Berlin. The congress offered a record of 89 lectures and 45 posters. The Horticultural Sciences Department of KoGa-partner University of Bonn contributed 5 lectures and 5 posters to this meeting and provided four section chairs. Particularly the master students did very well and presented two talks, Florian Gierling on Carbon Footprint of German wine and Patrick Hess on plastic reduction potential in horticulture. The posters of Christa Lankes on specific apple replant disease, of master student Maike Schüsseler on non-invasive russet detection and Louisa Schmid on protected cultivation of sweet cherry as well as of master student Laura Hillman on endogenous plant frost protection mechanisms received great attention. The abstracts (in German) can be downloaded here:

Next year, DGG will pause and be substituted by the Symposium on Horticulture in Europea (SHE) in June in Stuttgart, followed by another DGG congress in March 2021, presumably in Erfurt.

Prof. Peter Schulze Lammers retires

Prof. Peter Schulze Lammers, a long-standing member of the KoGa steering committee, officially retired on 1 March 2019.

He worked in many collaborative projects, culminating in 49 joint publications with the INRES Horticultural Sciences department of the University of Bonn. More than 60 guests and friends from his career attended his farewell seminar on Friday afternoon, 15 March 2019 where Prof. Schulze Lammers was honored with the Dencker-Honorary Pin for his achievements. Prof. Schulze Lammers will continue the Agricultural engineering lectures in the summer term until his successor Prof. Christopher McCool, who come to Bonn from QUT (Queensland University of Technology), takes over.

From drones to robot-ready orchards

Transatlantic symposium on ‘Mechanisation and automation in fruit orchards’ at ATB Potsdam/Berlin.

The satellite meeting of the Fruit Logistica on 5 February 2019 in Berlin attracted nearly 50 participants. Prof. Manuela Zude of ATB Potsdam organized and hosted the meeting with an exchange of progress and approaches on mechanisation and automation in both countries. The US visitors were from the Pacific Northwest of the USA in Washington DC, the world’s largest fruit growing region with ca.  44,000 ha and 2.5 million tons of apples annually. 

The topics ranged from non-invasive determination of fruit maturation and optimum harvest, robot-ready orchards for automated picking, use of robots in the orchards, autonomous vehicles and image analysis of fruit trees in the orchards to ethylene removal and sensors for fruit storage.

Dr. Michael Blanke of the University of Bonn presented the latest results on discrepancies between the chlorophyll breakdown data and starch index in Klein-Altendorf to determine the optimum harvest date for apple (Acta Horticulturae 1228, 363-369. Doi 10.17660/ActaHortic.2018.1228.54).

The meeting was rounded up by a tour of ATB by Helene Foltan visiting labs and field trials.