Carrots, leeks, beets, and cabbage are not the hippest vegetables. They are, however, essential for both the fresh and processed markets. Breeding programs for these crops are, therefore, tailored to the entire chain.
Leeks with slightly longer shafts and that are easier to peel. Tasty carrots that can be harvested early already, and sweeter beets with a lovely internal color. These are just a few of the innovations Bejo highlighted at the full soil open days. Bejo is a Dutch seed company.
Robert Schilder, holding one of Bejo's new leek varieties.
In a highly competitive market, breeders are constantly working on improved leeks. These are more resistant to diseases and thrips. This market requires the lowest possible pesticide residue levels. But, breeders also work on other aspects of these vegetables. These include their external qualities, ease of processing, and improved post-harvesting storage.
Thanks to breeding programs, it is quite possible to grow leeks year-round in Northern Europe. There are improved varieties available for every planting period, says Robert Schilder. He is the Sales Manager for the Benelux and Scandinavian countries at Bejo.
“Our leeks grow better and are more disease resistant. Besides these factors, characteristics like uniformity, field durability, color, and ease-of-peeling have also been improved. These meet the chain's wishes."
Bejo's different leek varieties.
“Walker is a leek variety with a very long shaft. This makes it suitable for use in the processing sector or the industry. These leeks can also be used in pre-packed trays or soup packs. You can even get three pieces from one leek. Here, the leaf color is not important," says Robert.
"Consumers want a nice, dark leaf color for all the varieties that have leaves. Bejo considers ease-of-peeling as an essential factor over the entire range of leek varieties. You should be able to remove the leaf in one go. An easy to peel leek is of great importance for the cost price."
"Bejo also particularly looks at good field durability and shelf-life. The new varieties - Bowler, Batter, and Defender - have received a certain qualification. They have excellent yields, are easy to peel, and have a good shelf-life to boot," the Sales Manager adds.
The tasty, early carrot race, Aranka.
Snack carrots sales keep rising. This increased popularity is very much thanks to this product being so tasty. Robert says, "Supermarkets sometimes notice a drop in snack carrot sales. This is when a different variety to Mokum is used. This carrot is well-known for its nice flavor."
"We now have a second tasty variety, the Aranka. This variety can be sown and harvested for longer. It can be sold as more than just a snack carrot in the fresh market. This variety can also be sold in bushels, or even as small B Class carrots for packaging in little trays."
Ronald Hand, in the trial field, with the Antonio pointed cabbage variety.
Antonio is a new pointed cabbage variety. This variety fares very well in CA storage. "It is a healthy, smooth, pointed cabbage with an established crop. It has a nice point with a sweet, mild taste. It also lasts until mid-February in CA storage," says Ronald Hand. He is responsible for Bejo's sales in the North East of the Netherlands.
Ronald Hand with the Davaro, a red cabbage with no 'tobacco leaves'.
Red cabbage is sold whole as well as processed. "Davaro is a new variety. It has excellent internal quality. The cabbage is suitable for the early fresh market and short storage. Tobacco-colored leaves are a common problem with red cabbages. These cannot be seen on the outside. However, consumers and processors do not want to be surprised by this when they cut into the cabbage," says Ronald.
The new beet variety, Bresco, has a high Brix content.
Beets are an ancient, robust crop. Thanks to their nutritional value, they are becoming popular again. Maastricht University, in the Netherlands, did research on this vegetable. This study showed that red beetroot juice can improve sports performance. And, this juice has been proven to lower people's blood pressure. "Our Pablo variety is already a household name - a nice, round, smooth beet. It is easy to peel and has a deep red internal color. But, we have an improved version called Bresco. This beet has a higher Brix content and sturdy foliage. This makes it easier to harvest," concludes Ronald.