Jan-Paul Bandsma, De Nijs, Warmenhuizen: ‘We think that the rapid availability of varieties that are strong against viruses is very important.’

Jan Paul Bandsma

‘An important part of our focus at the Fobek breeding company is on virus resistance. Last year, of course, all our problems started with the already significantly-higher percentage of cuts in seed, which has become even worse this year. At first, everyone thought it would be a temporary problem and it would blow over again, but when you look at the current subsequent inspection figures, this is not the case. This obviously requires action. We think that the rapid availability of varieties that are strong against viruses is very important. For a long time now, less attention has been paid to this in breeding. We were less affected by it, partly due to good crop management and sufficient resources. An additional reason is that we’re an exporting country. Viruses have been a problem in the rest of the world for some time now. If you have an export variety with good resistance, there’s a high risk of illegal second-growth in the importing countries. However, breeding for viruses isn’t an easy task. With a variety that’s strong against viruses in combination with AM resistance and fairly strong against Phytophthora, you already have a powerful weapon in your hands. For example, we have a promising purple-skinned number that’s suitable for the table, French-fry and export markets. This seedling is strong against viruses and reasonably strong against Phytophthora and there’s quite a lot of interest in it. Our first goal is therefore not so much to have Fobek develop fully-resistant varieties, but varieties that are stronger against viruses than have been available so far and therefore have good resistance. Of course, we’d like to have them as quickly as possible. We’re trying to achieve this acceleration together with breeder Bejo from Warmenhuizen, also one of the shareholders of Fobek. They have a lot of experience in the field of marker technology and they’re busy using this technique to map virus resistance genes. Hopefully, this will bear fruit within the foreseeable future.’

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