TRADE AND MARKET I NG Robust is the new trend Peter Ton, Stet Holland, Emmeloord: ‘The more robust the variety, the broader its use.’ ‘It’s undesirable, too expensive and too risky for us to grow potatoes that aren’t sufficiently robust. The more robust, the broader the use of a variety. This fits in with our vision of marketing large volumes of top-quality seed potatoes, while focusing on a limited number of large varieties instead of a large number of small varieties. For us it’s important that robust varieties do well in a wide area of application or geographical area. For example, it’s easy to grow a robust crisps variety anywhere in the world, while it’s important that a robust table potato variety can be grown in a specific geographical area – where the variety’s tolerant to drought and heat, for example. In short, these are varieties that can be cultivated well anywhere in the world without too many problems. Thanks to our collaboration with Pepsico, we develop crisps varieties that do well in all climates and are also good locally and are reliable to propagate as seed potatoes. That’s why robustness is also an important commercial component for us. Our VR808 variety is standard in terms of flesh colour when it comes to crisps. However, the variety is fairly susceptible to Y-virus, although it’s tolerant fortunately. The more robust new varieties are, the broader their use. In the example of Y virus, you can also export to land climates to multiply seed. New crisps varieties such as the Levinata, 913 and the 1001 are much more robust. Innovator is the standard in the Quick Services Restaurants (QSR) French-fry market, but this variety can, in fact, only be properly grown on clay and sandy soils. Our new Leonatie variety also gives a higher yield on more marginal soils and has an even better frying colour for this market segment, making it more robust than the standard. What worries me is the enormous number of varieties; these generate a lot of chain costs. After all, all these varieties have to produce mini tubers and need clonal selection in order to maintain them. I feel that time is running out. As a sector, we need to scale up. Variety improvement by 0.5% to 1% per decade is too slow. This should be at least 1% a year. These extremely small steps obstruct development towards robust varieties.’ ok for varieties that have opportunities in more than one market’ why all varieties that aren’t yet strong enough get pushed out again every year, until they’re gone. Think of the Bintje. In a good growing season, there are still very few varieties that can beat the Bintje, but the situation is changing due to bad years. Modern varieties are much stronger. An example of such a variety is the FOB2010-176-102PR Fobek crossing. An early variety that can stand up to Phytophthora with a distinctive purple skin and particularly suitable for early chips processing and that can be considered a replacement for the Première. In addition to being suitable for chips, the variety has a good consumption quality so that it’s also suitable for more markets. This variety fits in with our strategy of not aiming all our arrows at the Middle East. The Arab Spring has become an Arab winter in many countries. Thanks to its fine processing qualities and high resistance to Phytophthora and wart disease, the market is responding enthusiastically to this robust variety.’ Potato World 2018 • number 1 23 Pagina 22

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