On Wednesday, September 26, around noon, it was quite busy at the open days for open field vegetables at Syngenta in Wevershoof. The fields are full, but there is also time for lunch. There is Gina pepper soup, there is cauliflower to taste, there are some companies that show their systems, but above all there are many visitors from many different countries. "Yesterday we had 400 visitors from 50 different nationalities. Our CEO, Eric Fyrwald, was also there to interview customers", says Brigitte van der Steen, Marketing Operations Lead.

Pretty busy, even before lunch

The new product manager for cauliflower and Brussels sprouts for Northwest Europe, Koenraad Meyns, takes us into the fields. Koenraad has been active as a product manager since this summer and straight away he has a lot of innovations to show in the cauliflower segment. One of those innovations is cauliflower that remains white even without covering it. "This year we launched the Andromeda variety commercially in the Netherlands, Germany and the United Kingdom. A variety for the midi segment. This variety is also suitable for warmer countries. Nice to know is that two days after the harvest this variety is even slightly brighter white than during the harvest."

Koenraad Meyns at the Destinica Field

In the coming year, Syngenta will launch the umbrella brand name Destinica under which all current and future lasting white cauliflowers will be promoted. "The fact that the cauliflowers can better withstand bright light has several advantages. For example, you do not have to cover them with leaves to protect them against sunlight. This results in considerable labour savings. The cabbages are also easier to harvest because they are more obvious in the field now that they are no longer covered with leaves."

Cauliflower variety Andromeda in a mini-combination with broccoli

As market leader in the field of cauliflower for the fresh market, it is not limited to this one variety. "The Clarina variety is the largest variety in the Netherlands. The fact that the variety has a clubroot resistance also makes it an attractive variety for Belgium, where the problems with clubroot are bigger than in the Netherlands. Then again we have Speedstar for the early market."

The no longer new, but strikingly colored cauliflowers are also present in the field. There are green, orange and purple varieties. "All bred in a natural way", Koenraad emphasizes. Also here renewal. "The Clementine is our new variety with an orange color. The orange color is even brighter than with its predecessor Flamestar, and also after steaming this color remains better preserved."

To have the consumer buy this kind of cauliflower with uncommon colors turns out to be a challenge. "Many consumers buy such a cauliflower the first time as an impulse buy, out of curiosity. It is much more difficult to have the consumer buy that cauliflower for a second or third time. The expectations that the customer has with such a color play a part in this. For example, the taste does not differ from the regular white cauliflower. This concerns really something unfamiliar, something that is also used in the catering industry in the presentation of dishes."

A bright color palette with Graffiti, Clementine and Green Storm

Mechanical cleaning
From cauliflower to the Brussels sprouts. Here Michiel van Mol is joining as crop advisor. "Our goal, actually in all segments, is to offer varieties from early to late, both for the fresh market that is important in the Netherlands, Germany and the United Kingdom, and for the industry that is particularly large in Belgium."

The broccoli field

A whole series of varieties follows, from Abacus, a variety for early cultivation, to Trimstar, a variety for cultivation in November and December. "This variety will be launched in 2019. It is a variety that is suitable for mechanical cleaning. Trimstar has elongated sprouts that are well suited for mechanical cleaning. Because we expect mechanical cleaning to become increasingly important, we are focusing on the development of varieties that fit in here."

Also for the industry, Syngenta has varieties for early to late, as well as varieties for all possible types of soil. "Cobus is the standard variety for December here, while Thamus is the improved version of it. Thamus also re-grows quickly following difficult growth periods, such as the last hard summer. The variety has a better length growth of the sprouts, longer stalks and also more sprouts." As soon as the base, yield, quality and shelf life are good, it is all about the refinement, the details, Michiel explains. "One of those details, for example, is frost resistance."

The resistance field in which Syngenta tests varieties next to the standard variety to see how the varieties are doing without using plant protection products.

Contributing to a good schedule
In broccoli, Syngenta has three new varieties for the fresh market. "Beachy, Beany and Besty: varieties for the future. All three varieties have a genetic edge over the older varieties. The goal with this type of variety is to create even greater reliability and plantability for the grower. With Beany, for example, a grower can already make a good scheduling in the winter. This variety is suitable for harvesting from mid-September until the end of the harvest season. Thanks to the beautiful mushroom shape and excellent screen quality, the quality remains high up to the end", Koenraad states.

Other points of attention are good leaf health and good screen health. "For the future, we also look for broccoli at light resistance. Furthermore, we try to make a dense variety (with a fixed screen), so small but still with a fine weight."

Ice Wave and Ice Circle, new iceberg lettuce varieties

Good pipeline
A segment where Syngenta has a 'good pipeline' is iceberg lettuce. Brigitte, who went with us into the field, says: "Our goal is to ensure that the grower does not have to lie awake worrying because of his cultivation. We therefore try to make progress in the area of reliability. Ice Circle, a variety for spring and autumn and Ice Wave, a variety for the summer, has this reliability. Ice Circle is a variety with a fast and uniform growth, a good filling with uniform layers and the heads lend themselves to a beautiful presentation in a box of 10 for the fresh market. But this variety is also cultivated for the industry. Ice Wave also grows quickly and uniformly, has a high harvest percentage and is also strong against tipburn, good resistance to dry and wet conditions and also strong against pythium, among others."

Wolfgang Ott with the variety SG8359

Extremely hard
Although the onions are not in the field, there is also plenty of attention being paid to this segment. Wolfgang Ott, Product Manager Onions, has a tent in which he is presenting several varieties. Special attention is given to the Diamant Selection, a selection of varieties that score well on hardness. "Important for transport, for example by ship. This might take up to four weeks, so shelf life is important, just as a strong skin that has to protect the underlying onions, good skin firmness and a sprouting tolerance during long-term storage." In addition to Medallion, a variety that grows well under conditions with little moisture thanks to a strong and deep root system and Motion, again very suitable for the Flevopolder, also 'the future' is present. "The SG8359 variety is an improvement of Motion, especially in the field of harvest figures, the kilos."

For more information:

Koenraad Meyns

Michiel van Mol

Brigitte van der Steen