“These days are meant for inspiration, networking and making contacts”
Latest innovations demonstrated during Syngenta's 150th anniversary

The open days of the seed producers are an important annual happening. For Syngenta, this year is an extra festive one, as they also celebrated their 150th anniversary. One wall was covered with photos from a century-and-a-half ago, showing the employees of the current Syngenta’s predecessors.

Men with beards on ladders in the seed drying house in Enkhuizen, the Netherlands, where it all started, brought visitors back to days long past. Nowadays, Syngenta is a global player with more than 28,000 employees in more than 90 countries. Rain and storm appeared to throw a spanner in the works the week preceding the party, but combined efforts resulted in the various demonstration fields showing the crops nicely. 

Marie Legrendre, Joop Hof and Brigitte van der Steen of Syngenta.

The history was illustrative. For seed producers and developers, the future is important. With the aim of supporting growers more and more in the marketing of their products, Syngenta invited machine builder Sweere to give a demonstration of the Floreto, a broccoli and cauliflower de-coring machine that detaches the florets. Syngenta’s focus is on growers, but contacts with supply chain partners are becoming increasingly important for the future, according to Marie Legendre. Syngenta is actively looking for added value of the products. That was shown in the refrigerator filled with various convenience products. Surprising colour combinations of cauliflower varieties and bags and cups with naturally colourful tomato varieties. Marie: “The open days are a period to inspire, network and make contacts.”

Storidor is a market leader in white cabbage and has good storage characteristics.

Brassicas are an important product group for Syngenta. In white cabbage, Syngenta puts the spotlight on the variety Prodikos, a variety that meets the requirements of cutting plants, much like Zenon and Storidor. Prodikos is slightly greener than Zenon and Storidor during and after storage. For some cutting plants, this is a unique and distinctive characteristic. Prodikos has a long shelf life.

Storidor has an even longer shelf life, it’s a variety that became a market leader in the Dutch stored segment within three years. This year, Storidor could be stored until August. This, combined with its productivity and uniformity, makes Storidor Syngenta’s showpiece.

Syngenta’s headed cabbage specialist Cees Allaart presents high potential ALbounor, coleslaw.

Coleslaw is a new type of cabbage that is positioned between cabbage and iceberg lettuce. Coleslaw is distinctive in flavour, process-ability and storage-ability. Coleslaw can be planted both early and late, and has a short growing stage, about 70 days, and a larger harvest window than iceberg lettuce.

Various colours of cauliflower.

According to Syngenta, cauliflower no longer has to be bright white. They went looking for colour, and are now marketing three colour variations: Flame Star (orange), Depurple (Light purple) and SGC8001 (light green). Coloured cauliflower is mostly suitable for the salad segment, but also as snack (the coloured florets were in Syngenta’s example refrigerator). During cooking the colours may change or wash out. That’s why it’s recommended to steam and fry the coloured cauliflower.

Developments within an important crop like iceberg lettuce have also been busy. Besides Icecircle, Icewave is a new iceberg lettuce introduced by Syngenta. Icewave is a summer variety that was extensively tested last season. These tests show that Icewave retains its good size (10 in a box) in warm and in very wet circumstances, it stays firmly upright due to its good root system, and isn’t much affected by Pythium, among other things. These will be grown on a larger scale in the Netherlands next year.

Icewave is green and grows compactly.

A walk around the demonstration field with sprout varieties was an interesting journey through time.  Old varieties that are no longer commercially grown were allowed to grow out again. “They’re the golden oldies,” says field expert Celine Denys. “In the past, growers selected the best plants, and agriculturalists continued with that.” Successfully growing sprouts is quite difficult, and many varieties with specific characteristics have been developed. Choice of variety is an important factor, but so is type of soil, planting date, plant distance and period. Growers want the right match between harvest and sales. That varies per country and sales channel. For the Belgian market, it’s mostly frozen sprouts, the Netherlands and Germany prefer fresh sprouts. 

Syngenta helps set up a good cultivation plan, and has a large selection of varieties: from early to late and all sizes and markets. Abacus and Albarus continue to be two very reliable standard varieties at the start and end of the cultivation. Cobelius and Martinus are the two varieties for the B-market, they have a long shelf life, both in the field and after harvesting.

Golden oldie sprout varieties.

Green sprouts are popular because of their healthy characteristics, but purple sprouts are even healthier because of their higher level of anthocyanin and antioxidants. The purple sprout has a mild flavour, and is therefore suitable for modern consumers who are looking for new and healthy vegetables for quick and easy preparations such as grilling, steaming or stir-frying. 

With sales organisation Van Nature, sprout grower Eelco van Putten organises a Purple Sprout Experience on 31 October. Foodbloggers and media are invited to, among other things, pick the sprouts, to get inspired and to share their experiences with their followers and readers. Within the sprout segment, Syngenta has Frisetta specialities: a cross between kale and sprout. These types also contain anthocyanin.

Anthocyanin in purple sprout.

Syngenta’s refrigerator.

Cut cauliflower in purple and white.

Floreto for cutting broccoli and cauliflower.

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Publication date: 10/5/2017

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