TRADE AND MARKET I NG Robust is the new trend Erik Appeldooren and Colm McDonnell, IPM, Deinum: ‘Suitable for more regions and climates’ ‘Varieties suitable for growing in several regions and climates, for us these are the robust varieties. In addition, it’s important that a new variety is less dependent on chemicals, the input of fossil fuels and fertilisers and can also be preserved with fewer sprouting inhibitors. Due to the special growing conditions of our breeding station in Ireland, we already make a very good selection of robust varieties in the first year. For example, the station has a different type of soil from the rest of Europe and the local climate is rather harsh, with a lot of rain and a cold start after planting. In our climate, we need varieties that germinate rapidly and form strong stems. And it is always three degrees colder in Ireland than in the rest of Europe. The combination of rapid initial development and achieving an economic yield in a shorter period of time produces distinctive varieties. Our experience with choosing crossing parents helps us find robust varieties quickly. In the past, through our successful Rooster and Cara varieties, we primarily focused on fresh table potatoes for the UK and Ireland, our key markets, and for Cyprus, the Canary Islands and Egypt, our export markets. Nowadays, we’re also focusing more on growing varieties for the processing industry. In addition to our own breeding programme, we also work together with hobby breeders. An example of a robust variety is the TE-060201 by the Dutch hobby grower Jacques Temmerman. This very early table potato variety with a substantial nematode resistance and a high yield in various climates fits in a broad sales area. For next year, we’ve selected 12 markets in 15 countries. We have high expectations, especially from North Africa for the cultivation of early bakers for the United Kingdom.’ Sjefke Allefs, Agrico Research, Bant: ‘Traditional varieties are the easiest to produce and sell’ bies, growth cracks, peeling skin, lenticels and so on. For many of these characteristics we don’t yet have genetic markers. In addition, some characteristics are greatly dependent on the growing season. That’s why we record all observations accurately every year and base our choice of crossing parents on them. Robustness can be noticed in the field and we register it in the family ‘At Agrico, we call a robust variety a traditional variety. These traditional varieties are the easiest to produce and sell. That’s why it’s one of the main things we try to select as a breeder. My experience is that, if you need a story to sell a variety, that’s is not a solid foundation. Robust includes a wide range of characteristics such as resistance, storage life, vitality, low nitrogen demand, low mechanical damage, as well as low scatree of our crossing parents. Take growth cracks, for example. If you have a parent that develops growth cracks, you then know that, in principle, you shouldn’t use that variety. If we wanted to use Fontane as a crossing parent because of its great processing characteristics, then we’d need to have another parent in its successors that doesn’t develop growth cracks. In order to acquire more knowledge about this phenomenon, we’ve carried out a greenhouse test to check whether we can influence the formation of growth cracks, testing them in a controlled way. We know that the genes responsible for growth cracks are switched on under certain conditions. In the experiment, we simulated these conditions – dry period of stress followed by a lot of water – in a potting test. What happened? Even with varieties like Bintje, we didn’t see any abnormal tuber formation or growth cracks. This means that the effect can’t be generated, simply because it involves a lot of factors. So we still depend on many years of variety testing at various locations. A good example of a robust variety is the Constance table potato variety. This growing season was a good year to select for robust characteristics. The Constance came out well, because it achieved the highest score of all varieties in terms of performance, which promises a lot for this robust variety. Potato World 2018 • number 1 25 Pagina 24

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