CU LTIVATION AND TECHNOLOGY Variety Presentation Days 2019: main objectives in breeding vary widely ! Remco Koeman and Matthijs Kloek, Den Hartigh, Emmeloord: ‘We have a broad perspective that allows us to serve the entire playing field in the potato sector.’ RK: ‘The most interesting thing about this question for us is, what do you focus on? As a breeder and a trading company, your always look first at who your customers are and what they need. Our customer base can be split into two main groups: the seed potato growers in the Netherlands and the buyers of the seed potatoes they grow. Most of the latter are ware potato growers abroad. Both main groups have their own requirements. In our view, when it comes to focus, there’s always a matter of differentiation. On the one hand you have the breeder who often takes a long-term view and on the other there’s the grower who’s more concerned with every-day problems. In order to get a clear picture of the direction we need to follow as breeders, we make trend analyses for each customer segment. For example, what we observe among growers is the search for answers to problems related to climate change. Think of brief hot spells, longer periods of drought, cases of flooding, and soil salinisation. And then there are the ensuing pests and diseases reflected in the increased damage caused, for example, by viruses and nematodes. For us, these are again spearheads in variety breeding. If we focus on the potato processors, it’s clear to us that the most important trend is the enormously growth in this segment. As a breeding company, you could decide to devote more attention to this. And if we look at the consumers, we notice an increasing interest in healthy food in this segment with more attention to low-calorie foods that are also rich in antioxidants. MK: ‘The great thing is that we can respond to all these trends, because we have two breeding companies, Den Hartigh and Solanum, which together cover all these aspects. So, we have a broad perspective that allows us to serve the entire playing field in the potato sector. If there’s more demand for French-fry ‘If we focus on the potato processors, it’s clear to us that the most important trend is the enormous growth in this segment.’ potatoes, we’ll try to breed those. If they need to be climate-proof and to have more resistances, then that’s what we're going to look for. The young French-fry variety, King Russet, is a result of this approach. It’s a block-shaped potato with a length from which you can cut a lot of fries with very little loss. In addi! tion, it’s not affected by internal defects and has broad nematode resistance from A to E. We see that the French-fry market currently needs this.’ Jörg Renatus, Europlant, Lüneburg (D): ‘Our main objective is cultivation.’ ‘What we are focusing on? That question isn’t difficult, nor is the answer. Our main objective is to develop varieties that contribute to sustainable potato cultivation. Breeding for resistances is an important part of this and is both a huge challenge and an opportunity for us. The challenge lies in the fact that we try to develop varieties that are the most efficient for each grower, wherever they are in the world. In this context, I’ve mentioned the three key words that today's breeding work at Europlant is all about: durability, resistance and efficiency. None of these can be separated from the others. So what challenges are we facing? First and foremost is, anticipating all the cultivation factors brought about by climate change, drought, heat, flooding, etc. Nitrogen is number two on the list. How do we develop varieties that handle this as efficiently as possible and therefore require little fertilisation? The third in line is resistance to pests, diseases, drought and heat. The trick here is to be able to offer a suitable variety for each purpose and region that provides an answer to problems that pose a threat there. This requires a flexible breeding programme. And then there’s the disappearance of crop protection chemicals as number four. What’s the answer to that? When I look at CIPC, it’s especially important that we find varieties that can be stored for a long time with little or no sprout inhibiting agents. There’s currently a high demand for this from growers, because alternative products are very expensive. Fortunately, we have modern cultivation tools at our 16 Potato World 2020 • number 1 What is your most important focus in your breeding work at the moment ? Pagina 15

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