The market for fresh herbs is increasing at a fast pace, gaining markets as consumers become more interested in a healthy food experience. In Germany, the largest market in Europe for imported fresh herbs, the import value increased with 42% from 2015 to 2019. The most popular fresh herb in Europe is basil, which accounts for between 60 and 75 percent of the total consumption of culinary herbs.
Photo: Basilico bouquet: Gecom variety (S.A.I.S. Sementi)
The Italian "Genovese" basil is world-known for it's taste and aroma, says Franca Castagnoli with SAIS Sementi. SAIS Sementi is an Italian seed Company involved in production, breeding and marketing of vegetables since 1941. "The European market, like the Italian one, requires a product with high organoleptic characteristics and, above all, a great aroma. The market increasingly rewards items that are recognizable by the consumer who feels able to choose the product, placing confidence in the purchase."
The Italian breeding company Sais Sementi offers a complete catalogue of "Genovese" basil to match this goal. "With Gemini as the latest addition, with resistance (IR) to Fusarium and powdery-mildew, and the Superbo as the first, a traditional Genovese type obtained in the mid nineties," they say.
In basil, SAIS is a leading company on the Italian market, due to many reasons, Franca explains. "We work in a closed loop: SAIS handles all steps of the seed production, from the field to the warehouse with direct control on seed quality. Then we do our on research: all SAIS varieties are obtained by its R&D department. As a company we stand next to the growers: SAIS R&D has a close and constant collaboration with growers. And we have a strong presence on the markets, which gives to SAIS a complete and realistic overview of markets trend."
Pot cultivation (Gemma variety)
SAIS was the first company in Italy to introduce pot basil with characteristics of the "Genovese" - great aroma first of all, then shape and color. The short internodes of the Gecom variety opened a door for a high quality pot market.
"We started a breeding program dedicated to introducing resistance and the first result was Gemini. Also this variety preserves the Genovese traits, in addition to resistance to Fusarium and downy-mildew (IR). Gemini is a very high regrowing variety, suited for cultivation in high temperature." Thanks to intermediate resistance, the plant can achieve a high yield, even under pressure of disease.
"Over the years, our research has developed a wide range of basils, with the aim of covering the whole production season with the most suitable varieties for each cycle with unchanged qualitative traits. Varieties such as Gemma and Geniale have expanded the possibility of cultivation for the production of pots, even in the hot season."
Gecom: cultivation for traditional bouquet
Geniale: pot cultivation, the shortest in SAIS catalog.
SAIS can offer a large basil catalog, dedicated to the needs of the individual farmer both for the fresh and the processing market.
"Our experience started from solving a problem: seedborne Fusarium oxysporum. We solved this problem by using our deep knowledge of "Genovese" basil and a strict observance of seed production. From here our passion in basil began and we started also a breeding program. It was in the early nineties," says Franca.
Franca Castagnoli (Chief Breeder and R&D Manager of SAIS)
"In recent years", Franca Castagnoli continues "what we are seeing is a run-up to the introduction of resistances without any thought of the aroma, shape and color of the traditional basil. All features that are requested by consumers and thanks to which the fresh basil market grew."
"As a seed company, as a seed producer, we are aware of the importance of resistance and working hard on it. In species such as basil, however, you can not forget that the excellence of the aroma is still the hallmark of a quality product."
Gemini: open field cultivation for processing
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