Robert Graveland, HZPC, Joure: ‘We want to increase the return and lower the risk.’
‘Our focus is mainly on increasing the return of the seed potato grower and reducing the risks in seed potato cultivation, and therefore also the risks for ware cultivation. This means that the use of modern technology in breeding is becoming increasingly important, but we’ll continue to carry out the trialling together with our affiliated breeders. They also have easy access to numbers that contain the resistances we’ve identified in our laboratories with molecular markers. The use of markers makes our breeding work smarter, so that we can increase the speed in the selection. This is necessary to make the chain more sustainable. That’s still quite a challenge, because the approval of many crop protection chemicals is currently under pressure. We have to fit in with the wishes of society that are translated by the politicians. Unfortunately, the politicians hardly give the sector time to adjust. Decisions are taken almost overnight instead of introducing measures over a number of years. Consequently, we have to score hard in terms of residue and air, soil and water emissions. We have to change more and more in the genetics, because crop management no longer offers solutions. This means that the resilience of the varieties, but also of the total cultivation, must be increased. We’ve been doing that for years. Young varieties that are about to be introduced, and have been registered by the product managers meet qualities such as virus and fusarium resistance at a manageable level. However, controlling insects with crop protection chemicals remains a difficult story. This means that we have to do something about virus resistance on the variety side. With the disappearance of neonicotides, the power to protect the seed potato crop in the first six to eight weeks has suddenly gone. Seed potato growers need to spray even more now to keep virus problems under control. We know we have to go from A to B. There’s a transition time in between and the first step in such a transition time is often characterised by chaos. That may be the case with this year’s virus problem.’
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