During the Potato Variety Days 2021, we asked participating breeding companies about the key focus of their breeders in their search for new varieties. In this blog post you may read the answer given by Hans Geling, Director of Schaap-Holland, Biddinghuizen (NL):
The content of this blog originates from the article on the Potato Variety Days 2021 published in PotatoWorld magazine 2022/01.
By Zindziwe Janse, Jaap Delleman and Leo Hanse.
A big smile appears on Hans Geling’s face when he is asked about the focus in their breeding activities. ‘Call it foresight’, he responds, then triumphantly pulls out an A4.
It’s a brief overview that Geling has made on which he has clearly listed the breeding objectives of Schaap-Holland. These are divided into early, late and organic series. ‘If you ask me how I pick these goals, it’s nothing more than collecting the information I receive from all the departments of our company. That can be the purchasing department, sales, production, food services, in short the entire spectrum. What also helps us enormously in setting goals and making choices is the equipment and the software package in which we record the qualities and any possible problems of the varieties we’ve received, delivered and processed. The data that rolls our here gives me a lot of extra background information about the performance of our products in the field, say from cultivation to the sale of the fresh or processed product. The person deciding on the goals or varieties with which we’re going to work is ultimately the customer. Their choice often came with support from a variety of channels. This includes the large group of breeders we work with, as well as information from bio-impulse, our own people that work in breeding and marketing. This linking of plant breeding to the market is absolutely crucial in our business. What we’ve been lacking until recently is someone in our organisation who will focus on the optimal cultivation of the selected seedlings and then get the best possible result. This is why we’ve recruited Iris Saskia Smits. She previously worked in the field of breeding and phytosanitary matters at Solynta in Wageningen. So Saskia is going to play an important role in your question of how do you make sure that the customer’s choice is also available in the variety package? If we were to concentrate on what’s most important right now, then that would be an extra crisp variety. We didn’t have that until recently, but we certainly do need one. Mainly for export customers, as an attractive variety that can ride along on the introduction of our other varieties. We’ve found a good candidate for this in the Louisa variety, which comes from the CRAW breeding station in Wallonia in Belgium. The Belgian Comex Plant trading company represents this variety for Belgium, France and Spain, we supply the rest of the world. The variety scores well above average on many points, but its real Unique Selling Point is organic, in other words it has broad field resistance when it comes to Phytophthora. That was definitely shown in the various Bionext trial fields last season. Despite the Phytophthora pressure, the variety survived the season right up to ripening.’
Want to keep reading about the Potato Variety Days?
In the run-up to the event we published an e-book that you can download here!
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