TRADE AND MARKET I NG There is still plenty of room for new French-fry varieties Henk Feddes, Director of Interseed Holland BV, Dronten: ‘Manufacturers don’t like putting all their eggs in one basket.’ ‘Yes, there is and will always be room for new French-fry varieties, also with us, or better still: especially with us. Our firsthand information is what processers are looking for, a bit more length, a better frying quality, and a higher underwater weight. In view of the many requests for improvements that we’re constantly getting, it seems that the ideal potato variety still doesn’t exist. This applies to every segment, early, mid-early, late and organic. In addition, the argument of risk spreading plays a role. Manufacturers don’t like putting all their eggs in one basket. Suppose there’s suddenly something wrong with a variety, there should already be an alternative available. That’s why you’ll find buyers from all the French-fry manufacturers in the world on these variety presentation days. All in all, for Interseed Holland your question is an easy one, because we focus exclusively on the propagation of French-fry varieties. It’s my job to take steps to expand the acreage. For this, you obviously need Dirk Stellingwerf, Schaap-Holland BV, Biddinghuizen: ‘There’s always room for new French-fry varieties, as long as it’s a 2.0 or 3.0 version. ‘There’s always room for new French-fry varieties, as long as it’s a 2.0 or 3.0 version of existing ones. The demand for this is growing especially now, if only because of the enormous expansion of processing capacity in a country like Belgium. What we at Schaap-Holland are good at when it comes to varieties for the large French-fry factories is the early segment. We already have a successful variety for that in our programme, the Amora. In Belgium, this accounts for 40 percent of the area of early French fries. And there’s currently a demand for even more seed potatoes. Since its introduction, we’ve grown 10 to 15 percent in acreage each year. Is this as far as we go? No. Even an Amora doesn’t last for ever. In the long term, we’ll need an Amora plus. As you know, we have our own processing place here in Biddinghuizen and we use it for cutting French fries, including the Agria variety. For many years, we’ve been looking for a replacement, preferably, of course, from our own breeding programme. The replacement must be at least as good in terms of yield, colour and taste and better in terms of storage and blue discolouration, for example. At the moment, we still have the young Valentina variety that seems to have all these plus characteristics. We now have some 10 hectares of seed of that variety. We’re waiting for the judgment of our colleagues who do the processing. At the moment, we’re testing this variety not only for our own purposes, but also for others. And that’s how varieties that offer extras for Dutch seed potato growers. And we have that. Our varieties are, in fact, strong on scabies and virus, two characteristics that are currently in great demand. If we look at the past growing season, we can see from the NAK (General Netherlands Inspection Service for Field Seeds and Seed Potatoes) figures, for example, that the percentage of lost product due to virus infections in the follow-up checks is very high. It comes to more than 25 percent. With our varieties, it’s only 3 percent thanks to their very low sensitivity. If you ask what other challenges we have, then for us it’s nematode resistance, early maturity and a long storage quality. In this order we currently have the Poseidon, Francis and Chenoa varieties that are very promising. It would be nice if, together with existing successes such as Zorba, we could achieve an increase in the cropping area in the coming years. We can still use some extra cultivation areas, growers that are interested can come and see us.’ the variety has come to the attention of customers far away. This also creates opportunities for the export market and before you know it, we’ve a dual-purpose variety in our hands. So in summary, breeding new French-fry varieties pays off, there’s always room for better.’ 26 Potato World 2019 • number 3 Pagina 25

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