Henk Feddes, Interseed, Dronten: ‘How are the French-fry varieties doing in the factory? They are our number 1 priority.’
‘French fries and crisps, that’s the segment that the breeding work is 100 percent focused on. And when we zoom in on that, most of the attention goes to the question of how the varieties are performing in the factory. That’s our number 1 priority. Do the varieties suitable for French fries have sufficient length, is the frying quality okay, which ones produce the most fries and which varieties produce the least possible waste? These are the most important criteria. The fact that this is at the top of our list is mainly because the owner of Interseed is a French-fry manufacturer. Naturally, the grower must also be able to work with it, so we also look at resistances. Several of our French-fry varieties already have the much sought-after combination of pallida and wart disease resistance, such as the Poseidon. And this year, all interest is focused on virus resistance, which is a characteristic we’ve been working on for many years in our breeding programme. We’ve always been pretty rigorous when it comes to virus selection. If we find this in a seedling, we stop immediately and the effect of doing this can be found in our most important French-fry varieties. This season, the NAK’s (General Netherlands Inspection Service for Field Seeds and Seed Potatoes) virus reduction percentage is over 37 percent. Our Zorba variety had 5.7 percent reduction, no rejects, Miss Malina, Austin and Alanis all had 0.0 percent reduction and no rejects. You could, in fact, call this a focus, but with us it’s no more than good practice because, if you ask about the main focus in breeding, it’s the frying quality. This involves size, tuber shape, length, low levels of reducing sugars and a firm texture. The Zorba is currently the most successful result of this method. This year, we had 142 hectares of seed potatoes and next year we expect to have between 200 and 210 hectares. What the variety has to offer is that in addition to a good frying quality, it also has characteristics that are in high demand at the moment. We’ve already mentioned virus resistance, but its early maturity is also an advantage. Due to the disappearance of a remedy such as Chlor-IPC, processors are now looking more to early-maturing varieties, because they expect that they’ll not be able to store the volume of storage varieties for as long.