21 September 2023 News
The introduction of HREZ (High Resistance by Enza Zaden) is a major breakthrough for growers who have had to contend with ToBRFV in recent years. The first six varieties have been on the market in the Benelux since last year; this year the range will be expanded to more than twenty HREZ varieties in almost all segments. Vincent van der Lans, of tomato grower Lans, explains what this means for his family business.
“We grow 80 hectares of tomatoes, 60 hectares of which are normally under grow lights. Of course, a lot has happened in the past few years: the energy crisis caused us to use artificial lighting in a much smaller area, and on top of that there were the problems with the ToBRFV virus. For the last two or three years we have been testing varieties from different breeding companies continuously to see which ones perform best under those conditions. Enza Zaden’s HREZ tomatoes came out on top.
The growth and quality of the tomatoes are what’s most important to us. The High Resistant varieties from Enza Zaden survive best in that area, even when the virus pressure
around them is high. This simply means that the plants stay healthy, which gives you great peace of mind. Going into the greenhouse every morning and wondering how many plants will have fallen over again – that’s not a good feeling. When the virus got to us in 2019, it started with a few plants, but that quickly multiplied, and at one point a quarter of the plants in the greenhouse were dead. I've never seen anything like it, and I hope I never have to experience it again. We notice with the HREZ varieties that the resistance that has been crossed in does its job well, and across the entire product range: Sunstream, cocktail, and medium cluster, large cluster and small beef. And let’s not forget the loose tomatoes.
Our first introduction to HREZ was at one of our fellow growers. Based on what we saw there, we contacted Enza Zaden and started growing three HREZ varieties of large cluster tomatoes ourselves in 2022. Six months later we also added cocktail tomatoes, and now we have about 40 to 45 hectares of HREZ material. Of course, you’re always a bit on edge when switching to new varieties, but thanks in part to the communication with Enza Zaden, the whole process went very smoothly. Once a month they came to visit us to see how the varieties were performing, which made it a real cooperative effort. The trials in their own demo greenhouse also provided a lot of information. That resistance, I do have confidence in that, but I wanted to see how the quality and growth proved in practice.
For the future, I think it is important to keep developing. Resistance is one thing, but naturally you want to go further than that. We’ve gotten through the first stage; it’s time for the second. Enza Zaden’s strengths in this are their honesty, reliability and the short lines of communication. It allows us to be clear about what we want and to act quickly, so we can use a variety commercially relatively soon after we’ve seen it in the demo greenhouse. And that's great, because there's just a lot going on right now and everything is moving really fast. But fortunately, Enza Zaden always thinks in terms of possibilities!”