An Education On Varieties [opinion]

In the last month, I’ve heard from a couple of farms presenting their latest variety offerings. Florida-based Lipman, one of the country’s largest tomato growers, announced it is expanding the “crimson” characteristic in its ‘Crimson Queen’ variety to all of its tomatoes: round, Roma, grape, and heirloom.

This characteristic gives the tomatoes a deep-red color, increases shelflife, and provides high levels of lycopene, an antioxidant that is noted for helping to prevent several diseases.
Also in Florida, Branch, a Family of Farms, had a successful limited roll-out of its ‘Sweet Emotion’ sweet corn variety. Branch, which works with seed breeders and grower partners, determined this was a variety to move forward with, in part, based on its taste and quality.

Taste, quality, color, and health benefits along with disease resistance, strong plants, and holding ability, were included in many of the variety offerings I came across last summer when visiting seed companies’ trial fields. Breeders continue to research ways to improve varieties which, in turn, can impact on your production. If you are not caught up on the latest developments, you could be missing out.

When developing varieties, the breeders have to maintain a balance. They know you need solid performers. They also know what they develop needs to taste good or consumers aren’t coming back for more.

One characteristic of a strong performer is good holding ability. Breeders are developing varieties that can remain in the field longer in case we have another situation like last spring when some harvest crews didn’t make it to fields on time to pick crops.

Disease resistance also is center stage. One watermelon breeder said work is being done to propagate for resistance to Fusarium wilt race 2, which has been a big problem for some growers.

On the taste side, breeders know consumers buy with their eyes; so if it tastes good, it better look good, too.

One breeder said Brix levels can change, depending on the soil. For example, a high-salinity soil is the best type for one tomato variety to achieve high Brix levels. For you, that could be a valuable piece of information.

You face many challenges producing a crop. Some of those challenges, like the weather, you have no control over. Where you can take control, however, is knowing which varieties will be good producers for you.

By staying abreast of the latest varietal developments, you may come across something that not only has additional disease-fighting traits, but also grows well in the soil in your region and can withstand drought or other environmental conditions Mother Nature may throw at you.

Take the time to get educated on varieties. Your bottom line may depend on it.

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