Every year much of the vegetable growing world descends on the North West of the Netherlands to visit the series of open days held by major seed companies during the last week of September. This year, American Vegetable Grower went along and asked what these European events could teach growers in the U.S.
One of the international growers visiting Syngenta’s site at Andijk was Salinas, CA-based Growers Express, who were looking for potential varieties to extend their expanding Brussels sprouts program and reduce labor costs.
Among the varieties which could be particularly suitable, according to Ken Berry, Syngenta’s leafy and brassica product portfolio business manager could be two which feature Syngenta’s TopRes® brand of clubroot resistance. Crispus is an early segment variety while Cryptus (formerly coded as SGB1420 in trials) is for the main part of the season.
“We particularly need clubroot resistance in parts of Canada such as Vancouver, so these varieties are of real interest,” says Berry.
Ken confirms that there is also interest in clubroot resistant cabbage north of the border, this time in Quebec. The TopRes® varieties Kilazol and Kilagreg have performed well, and while seed can be more expensive, he points out that thanks to its clubroot resistance, Kilazol will give growers 10% more yield.
Given the success of these varieties, James Gray, one of Syngenta’s UK crop specialists, says that new variety Kilajack could also be suitable for the North American market. “We are also seeing a big demand for increased Xanthomonas and Fusarium resistance, particularly from producers in the south east,” adds Berry.
Around the world Dutch company Bejo Zaden is renowned for its range of carrot and onion varieties, although these form just a part of its strictly vegetable portfolio, as the extensive site at its headquarters in Warmenhuizen demonstrates.
As Bejo’s Jan van der Heide points out, the company has an extensive range of onions across all maturity types to meet the needs of growers, but it was two short day types which he says will be especially suitable for growers in the Southeast. Alison and Pirate (a new introduction formerly known by the code BGS 285) are both sweet types and strong varieties in an area where the company has not always been strong.
He also points out that tomatoes are strong suit for the company. “Tomatoes are a very large growth area for us where we can offer both good early blight and late blight resistance,” van der Heide says.
Tasti Lee is a high lycopene variety which combines the benefits of modern genetics with the taste and appearance of an heirloom variety. Bejo is also actively involved in helping to market the variety throughout the supply chain.
“This is a really revolutionary variety,” he says. “It has a great flavor and looks really ripe. We a developing a brand with producers to help them sell it, which represents a novel marketing model.”
Cabbage was highlighted at Rijk Zwaan’s trial. Muscoma is a long-term storage and processing variety ideal for the north east says Rijk Zwaan’s head of cabbage Christian Spangenberg. “It is a relatively green cabbage which suites the U.S. market,” he explains. “In Europe, coleslaw manufacturers want a very white color, but in America coleslaw cabbage should be green.”
Muscoma produces a typical head weight of 6 to 7 pounds and has Fusarium resistance. Another interesting trial variety is 30-277 RZ but Spangenberg confirms it will be at least two years before this is seen in America.
Another cabbage that was highlighted was the pointed types. “Pointed cabbage realizes double the price of normal varieties year-round and consumers are willing to pay for something special,” comments Spangenberg. He says there is a real opportunity to promote the crop in the U.S.
Teama RZ is a larger variety which has proved popular in Europe for winter cycle production, and should perform a similar role in the U.S. Meanwhile Tourima RZ is a summer variety which is used for early production in the UK. Care is needed to prevent it getting over mature, but close plantings will help and it has good field holding.
The Japanese breeder was holding its first open day in Holland since 2001 after a restructuring of the company’s European operations saw the vegetable headquarters move to the south of France while the flower side of the business moved north to Denmark.
One novelty is the new Sweetbell variety of turnip, which has just been launched in Europe. Sold and promoted as a salad vegetable like a raddish, the company is also supplying a special recipe booklet to be supplied with each bunch. This also features a QR code which takes consumers straight to a recipe on a website when scanned with a smart phone.
Worldwide Sakata is the market leader in broccoli varieties and bestseller Parthenon F1 has even begun to overtake sales of the established standard in Europe. Chronos is a new hybrid which is typically a week earlier than Parthenon and the head has a good blue-green color with few side shoots.
For summer production, Naxos is a new domed variety which matures 75 to 80 days after transplanting and which is particularly suitable for organic growers given its efficient use of available nitrogen.
Seminis, a division of Monsanto
As it moves forward, Monsanto will no longer be naming its vegetable varieties. Instead it will use a unified global coding system for new introductions. Among the first of these are two new spinach varieties. Both are round semi-savoy types with a dark color, although of the two SV2157VB is the darker.
In addition, after several years of development, Seminis will be commercially launching the first two lines in its Performance Series of broccoli in the UK this year. “This is a big step forward in broccoli,” explains the company’s John Hutton. “It is quicker to harvest with less leaves to remove.” It could also open the door to mechanical harvesting, although these varieties will not be available in the U.S. for another three or four years.
Now that the transatlantic merger of Limagrain’s Harris Moran and Clause is complete, there is a two-way movement of material from breeding programs. CLX 0375 F1 is one of three varieties from Harris Moran that Clause has been assessing for suitability for UK and European production.
In fact, a freak gale that swept through the Clause trial grounds the day before they opened provided a perfect test of lodging resistance.
“In the UK these crops need to resist the wind, so given this, in the UK and Holland I am now seriously looking at 0375,” explained the company’s John Ward.
“With a nice well-filled cob this is a good mid-season supersweet variety which meets all the UK market specifications.”
Also highlighted at the Clause trial was Clipper, a new second early cauliflower variety aimed at spring and early summer production, maturing in June and July in the UK where it is in the same production slot as Gipsy.
The strong white curd shows good tolerance to splitting and cracking and the erect foliage helps both plant health and harvesting.
Nickerson-Zwaan is H.M. Clause’s sister company in the Limagrain vegetable portfolio. The name may not be familiar to U.S. growers, but the varieties will be as they are marketed in the U.S. by Hazera Genetics.
“We have a lot of trials in the U.S.,” says the company’s International Brassica Specialist Maarten Danenberg. “The market is mostly focused on fresh production in the west and processing types in the east and we have varieties for both markets.”
Niz 17-1271 is a hybrid variety which although still in trials has high resistance to Fusarium and has a good yield potential in just 110 days. It is also suitable for short-term storage. A slower growing industrial type which should be particularly suitable for the New York area is Niz 17-1271 which matures in 140 days.
According to Marcel Raats, product manager for brassicas, Romanov is the company’s biggest red cabbage variety thanks to its excellent internal color. It produces heads of between 3 and 6 pounds in around 90 days and has excellent field-holding characteristics.
Photos by Richard Crowhurst.