So what does the development of a new vegetable variety involve? Breeding a vegetable demands a great deal of patience, dedication, money and creativity. The process that commences with selecting parent plants with the right traits and culminates in a new vegetable variety takes at least six years. Not an endeavour for the faint hearted!
The first thing we do is investigate and research which vegetables the international markets will need in six to twelve years’ time. What type of flavour, shape, size and for which moment of the day? Which resistance properties, which cultivation methods and which climate conditions? And the list just goes on. We identify and monitor global trends and developments and respond by developing new vegetable varieties. We closely cooperate with all the chain parties in our sector in these efforts.
We initiate our breeding programmes based on all the information gathered in this way, and our own expertise, experience and creativity. We start by crossing and selecting plants that have the required traits. The descendants produced by this process are then selected again based on the required traits. We also research ways of transferring the required traits to the next generation of plants. We combine the expertise, experience and creativity of our breeders with modern, highly advanced techniques such as molecular marker analysis or doubled haploids. This saves a lot of time in the entire breeding process. For example, when the plant is still small we take a leaf sample. Using this sample, our laboratory researchers can see which traits the seedling contains. And whether this seedling is the right candidate to use for further crossing. We do not have to wait until the plant is fully grown before assessing its traits.
Before a variety is put into commercial production it is thoroughly trialled first. The trials take place under various cultivation and weather conditions. We want to know exactly how a variety responds in certain situations. And what its strong and weak points are. Only varieties that pass these trials with flying colours are good enough to proceed to the next round.
And then…. following years of research, crossing, selection and trials the big moment finally arrives. All the required traits combine and unite in a new vegetable variety. The variety is registered and the commercial launch of a new top variety onto the market is a fact.