TRADE AND MARKET I NG Robust is the new trend At the beginning of November, leading European potato breeding companies and seed potato merchants presented their latest variety aces for the future at various locations in the Netherlands. Increasing attention is being paid to strong and sturdy or robust varieties. The reason for this is the demand from both global markets and the cultivation sector. Growers are increasingly looking for varieties that can withstand climate change. Industries are increasingly demanding potatoes of stable quality and supermarkets (and consumers) want potatoes with a year-round constant appearance and composition, grown with as little fertiliser and chemicals as possible. In short, robust is the new trend. Jacob Eising, Den Hartigh, Emmeloord: ‘For us, developing low-input varieties is equivalent to robustness.’ for all customers, and applies both to the production of seed potatoes and to the consumption potato grower, but also to the consumer. The basic level has risen sharply in recent years. Just 15 years ago, for example, we still talked about bruising insusceptibility and fine grading. That stage is now over. Such basic characteristics should all be good now. An example of a robust variety is our very-early Prada table potato variety. Its earliness helps the grower to be less dependent on environmental factors. You then have a potato with lots of characteristics that the market wants. In the old days, I was taught by the then Hettema Director Derk Jan Meijer that you should introduce a variety to a place where its bad characteristics aren’t noticed. That’s good advice and is still valid.’ ‘For us, developing low-input varieties is equivalent to robustness. This includes the use of chemicals, the tools to control diseases such as Phytophthora and Rhizoctonia. But a reduced need for minerals such as nitrogen and phosphate are also important issues for a farmer. This applies both to our Dutch grower because of the increasingly stringent standards, but also to export markets worldwide, because a lower input simply means less costs per hectare. Of course, robustness has to do with the final destination of the variety. That’s why we focus on the characteristics that are important for each specific market. For example, for organic varieties Phytophthora resistance is important, but it’s only part of the overall picture. The success of a variety ultimately depends on the yield per hectare. The search for these varieties is an increasing challenge, because the basic level in the varieties has risen sharply in recent years. The basic characteristics for the breeder can be found in the Potato Breeding book [Aardappelkweekboek]. We as Den Hartigh try to create added value on top of that. We call that robustness. This gives strong varieties that are suitable Michel de Nijs, De Nijs, Warmenhuizen: ‘Lo ‘A potato variety that has drought and heat resistances as a basis and also French-fry qualities. That’s what robustness is for our company. We’re looking for varieties that have opportunities in more than one market. It’s important that such a variety shouldn’t be too late. Due to the increasing harvesting risks, I see late varieties vanishing in the coming years. As co-shareholder of the Fobek breeding station in the village of St. Annaparochie, every year we discuss with the breeder what we’re going to cross. You have to think 10 years ahead for this. Because we are mainly active in the Mediterranean countries, this must at least include characteristics such as heat and drought resistance. Don’t forget, these varieties are becoming increasingly important due to the climate change in Western Europe. This year, we had roughly three months of drought followed by three months of rain. If we’d had the variety package of 25 years ago this year, there’d have been a crop failure. That’s 22 Potato World 2018 • number 1 Pagina 21

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