TRADE AND MARKET I NG Robust is the new trend André Postma, Selectiebedrijf Kooi, Leeuwarden: ‘A robust relationship is even more important than a robust variety’ ‘My first thought on hearing the word robustness is big, coarse, a variety that we sometimes describe as a stray dog. A bit thin, maybe, but a strong, sturdy type. On top of that, there are also requirements such as a low fertiliser need and very little extra to stay healthy. And don’t forget the taste. In my opinion, such an all-rounder doesn’t exist. A robust variety is one that’s optimal in every aspect of its segment, but if you are developing a variety, there is always a characteristic that lags behind. The most we can do as growers is to pick up the signals from the market and use them as much as possible. Too little attention is paid in the bio-covenant to exactly what they mean by robustness. Is this a Phytophthora-resistant potato that you can deliver year-round, must have resistances to potato cyst nematode and still tastes good? For now, we’re still looking at our direct customers for the answer. What do they want? In this sense, it might be better to say that a robust relationship is even more important than a robust variety. If we can satisfy them long-term with a variety that meets their needs, that’s what it’s really all about. A recent example of this is the upcoming demand for varieties with a 2-coloured skin. Consumers in the Netherlands aren’t yet so familiar with this, so it attracts attention. That’s what our supermarkets and greengrocers like to see. That’s why there is a demand for it. We’ve recently been able to meet this requirement with the Nemo variety. It has a red skin with white spots of different sizes around the eyes. Robust is certainly a target in breeding. Perhaps, Nemo may soon meet this requirement, but we don’t know that yet. You first need many years of growing experience to find out.’ creasingly important’ selected the better parents, among other things, by using new breeding methods such as marker technology. Thanks to this top list of parents, we’re already almost certain which crossings add value. A recent example of this is the Acoustic table potato. This is what we call a robust variety because of its stable and high marketable yield in various climate and weather conditions. Furthermore, a strong Phytophthora resistance gene has been crossed in and gives the variety a high overall quality. As far as Phytophthora resistance is concerned, it’s important that all potato growers apply a good resistance management for this variety. So spraying from time to time when it’s really necessary, but it will be much less than usual. This is necessary to prevent the resistance breaking down.’ Potato World 2018 • number 1 33 Pagina 32

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