TRADE AND MARKET I NG Robust is the new trend Gerard Bovée, Plantera, Marknesse: ‘What we mustn’t lose sight of is taste’ is secure yields. This not only depends on the variety, but also on the growing conditions. If you want secure yields, that starts with the cultivation and supply of vigorous seed. Bad-tasting potatoes shouldn’t reach the market, but this also applies to non-vigorous seed. If we’re slack here, we’ll lose our market share and we won’t comply with the condition of robust cultivation and breeding.’ ‘If you focus on robustness as meant in the bio-covenant, then you can’t only limit the story to Phytophthora resistance. For example, an organic grower, who also grows seed potatoes, also needs a variety that has immunity against viruses. These are properties that you can cross quite quickly. But the tricky thing is to combine this with taste and yield. We shouldn’t lose sight of taste in particular, and that’s what you sometimes see when new Phytophthora-resistant varieties are introduced. Well, we must stop that because it costs us our market share. If we apply the term robust as I’ve just described it to a variety that we have in our range, then I’ll go straight for Vitabella. This firm table potato variety has a high resistance to Phytophthora and is also very tasty. But that’s still not enough. The variety matures relatively early and is fairly easy to grow for both seed and consumption potato growers. But that doesn’t mean that we’ve covered the entire table potato market, because there are also consumers who like their potatoes floury. And for them we have the Cephora, which was recently added to our product range. The degree of Phytophthora resistance is comparable to the Vitabella and it’s a very tasty potato. This is all very well from the cultivation and consumer point of view, but there are also the supermarkets. They want you to be able to deliver the same potato with a constant quality all year round. And that’s possible with the varieties mentioned. They can be stored for a reasonably long period of time and can be cultivated in Northern and Southern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. What we haven’t mentioned yet Guus Heselmans, Meijer, Rilland: ‘Reliability of varieties is becoming in ‘A robust potato is a reliable potato that does what it should do, regardless of climate, weather, year and storage influences, and that means to deliver a sustained yield per hectare. As growers, we know exactly what measures to take to produce such a potato. The reliability of varieties is becoming increasingly important. Climate change and the emergence of new diseases, including soil-bound ones, are increasing the demand for robust varieties. A factor such as the highest kilogram yield is less important then. Moreover, we don’t need surpluses, do we? So stability, that’s what it’s all about. And don’t forget that yield is more than what fills the trailer. The net return is much more important. Look, robustness starts with the prevention of unpleasant surprises. For us as breeders, this means that we should already have sorted out the predictability of the behaviour of a variety at breeding level. If you, as a grower, can make a complete forecast for this, then you’re really lucky. From then on you can start applying ‘breeding by design’. However, that’s not yet the case with us. We’ve now reached the point where we already know a great deal about parental development. This is because we still cross two parents with each other to produce a match in the traditional way. As a breeding station, we’ve made enormous progress in recent years because we 32 Potato World 2018 • number 1 Pagina 31

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