R&D process key to varietal success for Spanish nursery

Berry varieties such as Victory, Primavera, Inspire, or Renewall have revolutionized the varietal map of the Mediterranean Arc, as much as they have provided the rusticity that the producing sector needs, complying with commercial requirements from the market. All this has been thanks to the intense R&D work that El Pinar has been developing for years, together with Plant Sciences and Berry Genetics.

A necessary and continuous work, which they carry out both in their centers in Segovia and Portugal, as well as in the Experimental Farm of Lucena del Puerto (Huelva), which allows them to differentiate themselves in the introduction, not only of new materials but also in type of plants offered or even cultivation techniques.

Varietal obtaining process
Presenting a new variety to the market is a long process that requires, in addition to a strong investment, continuous monitoring of the selections during several campaigns. "This process begins with 80-100 selections each year, of which we select the best, discarding others, which are replaced by as many selections each campaign," explains María Fiz, head of the R&D Department at El Pinar.

This initial evaluation of each selection lasts for five years, and depending on the interest and the target market for which it has been identified, trials begin on a larger scale, either outside the Experimental Farm or with different types of plants and harvest dates. "In the same year, we can evaluate up to 230 new selections; a new variety, it is usually launched on the market after 5-7 years of field evaluations. This means that for a variety to become commercial, more than 1,600 selections that were tested as potentially interesting have been discarded. In other words, the probability of success, understanding success as finding a new optimum variety, is less than 0.10%", remarks María Fiz.

The El Pinar R&D Department, in close collaboration with Plant Sciences and Berry Genetics, is not only focused on obtaining new varieties. They are simultaneously working on many other projects, such as specific varieties for the industry, trials with pots of different volumes and planting dates; strawberry varieties with low chill needs; planting populations of individuals, thus selecting the plants from their earliest stage. "There are various projects in order to offer our clients, whose needs vary, varieties that adapt to what they require. The final product can be different depending on the market, but in any case, we are looking for productive varieties, with quality fruit and rustic varieties that adapt to the increasingly difficult growing conditions," sums up María Fiz.

But the research and development work does not end when the varieties go on the market, they continue to be studied, testing their behavior in nurseries, on client farms, accompanying the farmer, evaluating the plant, the fruit, the flavor, the shelf life, etc.

In this sense, another of the tasks of this Department, and specifically of the center of Lucena, is the varietal verification with the pre-base materials of the selections. In other words, in already commercial varieties, a follow-up is carried out on the healthiest and cleanest propagation material, which is renewed every year. This allows them to have the best mother plants. Better insofar as they are the variety than they should be due to their characteristics (authenticity) and because they have presented the best values of production, fruit quality, and resistance in the field, among others.

The objective: quality fruit
The ultimate goal of all this research and development is to offer quality fruit that consumers like. "Fruit that you want to buy when you see it in the market, with a good external appearance, with such a good flavor and that it arrives at home impeccable, that you want to repeat it again. And all this translates into a fruit with a good shelf life, good size, homogeneous, which preserves the freshness of the calyx, which does not darken too much, juicy but not soft, and shiny," describes the head of the Department.

With all this, El Pinar continues working to identify not only new materials but also to continue offering the best plants of the varieties that are already known and established in the markets.

For more information:
El Pinar
Tel.: +34 921 15 58 87
Email: info@viveroelpinar.com 

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