RE SEARCH Solynta: ‘At the earliest, we will present our first commercial, not yet resistant, variety in 2021’ yet an optimal combination of these. What we wanted to show the world in Wageningen is proof that, with our hybrid crossing programme, we’re able to successfully introduce a resistance such as against Phytophthora. And you’re going to register that crossing soon? ‘We’re now working on a European project application. With this we want to demonstrate the impact of the cultivation of resistant hybrid varieties on reducing the use of pesticides. These include crisps, chips and table potatoes. We’re going to make various series of these hybrids with one, two, three or four resistance genes. We call these isogenic series and we’ll be testing them further at various locations in the Netherlands and Europe in the coming years. This is still purely at the demonstration level. We’re not working with a commercial variety here, because we don’t yet have one. So, we won’t try to register our first cross with a resistance before we have our first commercial variety. After all, as soon as it’s there, we’ll be able to introduce all the available resistances within two years’ time and we’ll then quickly have another new variety. That’s why we’re now going to try to put a very good-quality and highyielding variety on the market first. We already have this and, in theory, it takes four years to get a crossing commercially ready. First, it takes two years to carry out cultivation and value-in-use studies and then another two for registration in the national Varieties List. You can then calculate that at the earliest, we will present our first commercial, not yet resistant variety in 2021.’ You can then begin the seed trade? ‘Ha, no, we’re not going to do that ourselves. We’ll only focus on what we’re doing now, and that’s just the breeding of better and better hybrid potato varieties. That’s what our business model is based on. We think that others are much better at producing seed, and growing plants and mini tubers. So we’re looking for partners, and the first interested parties have already come forward, and we’re not limiting ourselves to the Netherlands alone. Five years ago, I told you that we were then still facing logistical challenges. How do you sell that hybrid seed, how can you do this efficiently, where will you do it, and what about the legalisation of seed? At that time, we weren’t allowed to import potato seed from abroad. Fortunately, we’re a big step further in this regard, because the NVWA (Netherlands Food & Consumer Product Safety Authority) has arranged that we’re now allowed to import potato seed from countries within the European Union. Incidentally, we’re already going to start working with hybrids in the Democratic Republic of Congo in Central Africa next year. The reason that we’re already starting to work there’s because there is a major food shortage. Worldwide, 35,000 people die of hunger every day. At the same time, thanks in part to the efforts of aid organisations, the potato is becoming a more important food crop. We came into contact with these organisations and, during missions, we looked at what the contribution of our hybrid potato seed can make to increase pro‘We now have an F1 hybrid with a good yield and an F1 hybrid with Phytophthora resistance, but not yet an optimal combination of these,‘ Pim Lindhout explains the status regarding breeding at Solynta. duction. At all events, it’s faster than in Europe. The average yield is only 7 tons per hectare over there. Last year, the first hybrid variety that we cultivated there yielded 29 tons per hectare. It’s not strange that they’re interested in this, because it’s bursting with diseases over there. Growers often select the small potatoes from their consumption crops as seed, including the diseases they carry. However, when they start with our hybrid seed, they start with a clean slate.’ So in four years’ time, we can expect the first seed of a commercial hybrid variety in Europe, and very soon even in Africa. What do you think the cultivation of consumption potatoes will be like? Will it start with seed, a plant or a tuber? ‘It can be all three. For example, this year, we sowed before the late spring and had night frost afterwards. We lost some plants because of that, but most of them developed just as well, to my utter astonishment by the way. You can also start with seedlings where there’s sufficient water available, and where you have less moisture and more chance of weeds and frost you could start with tubers. If you start with seed or plants in a field with lots of weeds, then there’s quickly too much competition for moisture, and weed control is also more difficult. Practice will show in which regions which of the three methods produces the highest returns. As you can see, the cultivation of consumption potatoes from seed is also possible with hybrid varieties, but you only have one year of seed potato production. This also means that you have a minimal chance of infection with diseases in your starting material. By the way, we’re not saying that you should sort it all out for yourselves as regards cultivation. We’re now working on what we call cropping systems. It is, of course, in our interests that, as soon as the hybrid varieties are available, they’ll also be successful in the cultivation of consumption potatoes.’ ● Leo Hanse Potato World 2018 • number 1 9 Pagina 8

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