The Limburg Hesbaye region is without a doubt the main Flemish fruit cultivation area. This region accounts for over 60% of the total production and the resulting economic value amounts to approximately 220 million euro. The fruit cultivation sector in Limburg owes this economic value both to the relentless efforts of the fruit farmers and to the researchers who have taken the knowledge of the farmers to one of the highest levels worldwide.
Today, the extensive selection of fruit in shops - including strawberries, berries, cherries, apples and pears - meets the highest quality standards and is coveted both in Belgium and abroad. We owe this in part to the highly specialised local research into fruit farming, which local farmers can always rely on. The first research in this sector dates back to the pre-WWII era and in Limburg, it has been ongoing for 75 years. In 2018 this know-how is centralised in pcfruit, the Centre for Research into Fruit Cultivation.
A lot of knowledge and expertise applied across the globe originates in our region and is a direct output of the research into fruit cultivation conducted in Limburg. Throughout the years, smaller research entities have been centralised. In 2008, the Experimental Garden for Hard Fruit/Stone Fruit merged with the Experimental Garden for Strawberries and Woody Small Fruits. The result is unique for the research into fruit cultivation in Western Europe: one single location offering applied scientific research, field research and direct knowledge transfer to farmers. The results are usable instantly, and they are shared with farmers through seminars, field visits and apps.
In 2015, a new entity was created as a response to the growing number of vineyards, namely the Knowledge Centre for Viticulture - once again a perfect example of how an opportunity for fruit growers has been embedded in local knowledge development. Fast-forward to 2018 and pcfruit has become an internationally renowned research institution operating from modern research laboratories. The trial fields cover a total area of 62 ha. and sow the seeds of highly targeted advice to the fruit farming companies in Limburg. Day in, day out, over 100 enthusiastic researchers, technicians and spokespersons join forces to take fruit cultivation in Limburg to an even higher level.