It has been a wonderful year for Gordon Yakel, who is head grower at Delta View Farms in Delta, Canada. The family-owned company is growing 11 acres (3.6 hectares) of the beefsteak tomato Kivu RZ, a relatively new Rijk Zwaan variety. Yakel is very enthusiastic about the results. The yield is better, the tomatoes are bigger and mildew is no longer a problem.
Streamlining the operation
“At Delta View Farms, we grow 18 acres of roma and beefsteak tomatoes on coconut in a traditional way. Our tomatoes are marketed by Windset Farms. In consultation with them, we focus on high-volume, high-producing varieties with a good shelf life and taste. A few years ago we made the choice to streamline our operation and to grow only two types of commodities. This is because of the high labour costs in Canada. In the peak season we now only need 80 employees, which is how we make our business model work. We pick and pack on site and transport our tomatoes directly to our customers: retailers and food service companies in Canada and the USA.”
Zero powdery mildew
“Kivu RZ makes my life so easy; it is exactly the variety I have been asking for. Last year I tried it in ten rows. I was so pleased that I took the calculated risk of growing the grafted Kivu RZ on such a large scale. It has been a wonderful decision. One of its main strengths is the intermediate resistance to powdery mildew, which has become a major problem in the region. There is zero powdery mildew for me this year.”
“Secondly, Kivu RZ is a great variety because it just loves to produce big tomatoes of 240 to 260 grams. Even the fourth tomato on the truss has that size. And the bigger the fruits, the better our price. My customers love this tomato because of its size, its shelf life and its small core, which means they can get more usable slices out of it. Another remarkable advantage is that Kivu RZ has zero fruit drop. A further strength is the generative, labour-friendly, open plant type. Because of these positive points, I think we will end up with a record production this year.”
“I’ve had to change some aspects of my growing style, of course. Because of the generative character I don’t need to push the plant as much, which saves energy. And as a result of the higher fruit load it requires more nutrition. The feed EC is now 3.6, whereas I used to give 2.8 to 3.0. The fruits have a fast ripening speed and hold on to the plant better. We adjusted our picking schedule in the summer months and use clippers to pick the fruits.”
“The adjustments have been worth the effort. Summing up, with Kivu RZ we don’t have any stress, we hope to achieve a record production and we receive positive feedback from our customers. I’m the first company in this region to grow it on a large scale. The other growers in my study group are now seeing how wonderful this variety is. I’m quite sure I’m going to have more competition next year. This has been an amazing season for me.”