Erika den Daas, Meijer Potato, Rilland ‘We’ve been focusing very strongly on yield combined with resistances over the past few years.’

Erika den Daas

‘In our breeding work we’ve been focusing very strongly on yield combined with resistances over the past few years.’ The word that we think fits best here is robustness. There are several reasons why we’re fully focusing on this right now. We’ve identified three important shifts in cultivation: an increase in pests and diseases, a decrease in the package of chemical crop protection agents, and a change in the climate. That makes it quite a job for the potato grower to keep his yield up to standard, let alone to increase it. When it comes to Phytophthora resistance, we’ve been working for some time on stacking resistance genes. More resistance genes in a variety makes breakthroughs more difficult. Actually, we do the same with all the other characteristics. We’re stacking various strong characteristics on top of each other to get a robust variety. Thanks to our many years of breeding experience, we can draw on a very extensive gene bank, which holds some very strong generation lines. When it comes to robustness, we’ve brought along a good example here. This tray holds an entire family, with grandmother Cupido at the back, daughter Orchestra next and here in front granddaughter Acoustic. All three are strong on yield and additional characteristics are stacked in each following generation. For example, the youngest addition has been given double Phytophthora resistance, also stacked. To be honest, breeding is not the only way to achieve robustness. Consulting with the customer is just as important. Our potato varieties grow in various countries around the world and the growing conditions can vary significantly. A robust variety for one country can have completely different characteristics than a robust variety for another country. In order to get a clear picture of which variety characteristics are important for all these different customers, we use fifty selection criteria to find the common denominator that provides sufficient robustness for each of them. With this accumulation of data and our breeding experience, we hope to create the most suitable robust variety for each customer. And that’s what we’re doing every day.’

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