TRADE AND MARKET I NG Robust is the new trend Marc Hoogterp, Van Rijn France, Bazemont: ‘Every market sets its own requirements for robustness’ ‘You just saw those huge tubers of the Touareg variety, now that’s what we call robust. A Spunta-plus that’s not only large and gives high yields, but also grows steadily at extremely high temperatures, as they are found in Mediterranean countries. The variety is particularly sought after in growing areas with a winter crop. As you know, they love big consumption potatoes in North-African countries. Every market sets its own requirements for robustness. When you talk about a robust variety for the table market in France and Southern Europe, you can’t ignore the Agata. If you want to outperform that, it’ll only be possible if the variety scores better on things like storage life and skin quality. We have reached that point with our Libertat variety. Libertat is, in fact, even more robust, because it can be stored without sprouting for a longer period of time without having to use Chlor-IPC. Thanks to its high Rhizoctonia resistance, additional chemicals to improve the skin quality aren’t needed either. In addition, the variety is not very susceptible to Phytophthora. Considering the use of the word robustness in the bio-covenant, this is a striking example of what the supermarkets look forward to when they talk about sustainability. That’s why the variety is now rapidly increasing its total cultivation area. We currently have 50 hectares of seed potatoes and we hope that we can very soon double this.’ Joris van der Lee, Agroplant, Medemblik: ‘No varieties with a complicated in ‘It’s so easy, fewer pesticides, less manure, that’s what the robust varieties – as they are described in the bio-covenant – are all about, of course. The question is whether we should be pleased about this. In any case, what this shows is that the lobby of nature organisations is still quite good at removing even more chemicals from the farmer’s shelves. The supermarkets are guided by this. We’ll probably still be allowed to spray oil on seed potatoes for another two years, but that’ll be the end of it, I suppose. This makes it increasingly difficult to grow a profitable crop as a potato grower, and especially as a seed potato grower. After all, with every change you’re forced to be even more creative. This increases the costs. Look, what the farmers want is a variety that you can grow easily and for as long as possible, with as few defects as possible, of course, but without a complicated instruction manual. This is actually what we mean by a robust variety. This is ultimately a variety that brings the money in. Of course, every variety has its own instruction manual, but if you can use them for a long time, you don’t have to learn new tricks every time. The problem with variety development that the supermarkets want, with every possible resistance, is that the yield factor for the farmer usually decreases. And that’s definitely not something we’re looking for. The most important thing is to find a variety for 34 Potato World 2018 • number 1 Pagina 33

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