The aim of variety breeding is to develop new potato varieties that are suitable for the markets we are active in. These new varieties must meet the specific wishes of growers, the processing industry and the varied preferences of the consumer. Three phases are involved in creating a new variety: cross breeding, sowing and selection. Each phase is described below.
The hunt for a new variety begins with searching for suitable parents. These parents are potato plants with the special properties that we want to cross. Once the parent plants have been found, the pollen from the father plant is placed on the pistil of the mother plant. After pollination the mother plant produces berries. These berries contain the seeds of the newly crossed variety. The quest for a new variety has started.
All these seeds are evaluated individually, as each seed has a unique composition. A huge number of seeds are required to select a new variety. The seeds are sown and grow into seedlings. Each of these seedlings is placed in its own small pot. After a period of growing in the greenhouse they form one or two small tubers.
Together with our affiliated breeders and breeding companies we start each year with 170,000 of these small seedlings.
The best tubers from the greenhouse are now transplanted outdoors. We plant them in the soil and allow them to grow into a small potato plant. During harvesting they are subjected to a meticulous inspection and assessment. We retain around 15% of the lifted potato plants.
The potential new varieties saved in this way then undergo a further eight years of being planted, evaluated and selected on trial fields. The selection process is increasingly stricter, with the potatoes being assessed for:
- resistance to diseases
- preparation properties
- suitability for processing
We monitor and describe our new varieties
We have more than one hundred hectares of agricultural land with trial fields in the Netherlands and other countries in which we test our potato varieties. In order to grow the chosen varieties properly, agronomic trials are done using new and established varieties. During this research we also determine the optimal way to grow seed potatoes and ware potatoes using the new varieties. Cultivation factors that play a role are:
- the influence of the type of soil;
- planting distance;
- application of fertilisers;
- suitability for organic production
In this process we cooperate with growers from all over the world. They know precisely which potato feels at home where.