TRADE AND MARKET I NG In 25 years, EUROPLANT has developed from a regional player to a multinational company with modern storage systems. Checking and grading is carried out with a modern grading line from Dijkstra. BNA is currently examining the possibility of the further automation of inspection, because it is increasingly difficult to find suitable people to do this. The checking is still carried out by people in a climatecontrolled room. A garden full of modern varieties The variety trial field in Böhlendorf, which the company has very appropriately called a variety garden, is full of new modern potato varieties. Prominent in the garden are the three currently largest varieties Jelly, Belana and Marabel. Looking at the future, Meyer tells us that the focus of the current breeding programme is on finding suitable varieties for the processing industry. In total, two-thirds of the crossings are for processing. According to Meyer, this strategy is beginning to bear fruit with new varieties such as the light yellowfleshed Etana, which has both a broad nematode resistance and tolerance, and the mid-early light yellow-fleshed Donata and Ottawa varieties. He goes on to say that the crop farm in Böhlendorf covers a total of 2,400 hectares. ‘Everything on the farm is aimed at healthy potato cultivation. As BNA, in addition to breeding, we ourselves are responsible for the first years of seed potato propagation of our varieties, which means that we encounter the advantages and disadvantages. This operating method has grown historically, but we don’t want to let go of it because we want to safeguard the quality of the high-quality seed potatoes ourselves’. Böhm says that BNA’s philosophy is to cultivate the pre-base material of its own varieties itself. ‘It’s better for the health of the seed of our varieties to discontinue growing and stop problems quickly. The first loss is the smallest’, he laughs. To further professionalise and automate the cultivation of mini tubers, the company is putting the finishing touches to a new greenhouse where they can grow 75,000 plants. In order to meet the demand for seed potatoes, BNA produces two crops of mini tubers per year. The first seed is planted in the greenhouse in February and the harvest follows in June. After decontaminating the soil at the end of July, the next series of seed is planted in the greenhouse, which is harvested at the end of October or early November. In total, BNA produces 1 million mini tubers per year. In addition to the official inspection by the German government, BNA, through its sister company Bioplant, tests all the material itself for viruses and other important diseases. In order to spread the risk, the cultivation of varieties of mini-tubers also takes place in the Netherlands by breeding partner Mansholt and other specialised mini-tuber producers. The buildings and the many metallic ‘DDR wire boxes’ are still in the style of 30 years ago and the atmosphere still breathes the communist spirit. Potato World 2017 • number 4 29 Pagina 28

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