The content of this blog originates from the article on the Potato Variety Days 2021 published in PotatoWorld magazine 2022/01.
By Zindziwe Janse, Jaap Delleman and Leo Hanse.
During the Potato Variety Days 2021, we asked participating breeding companies about the key focus of their breeders in their search for new varieties. In this blog post you may read the answer given by Johan van der Stee, Commercial Director of Meijer Potato, Rilland (NL):
‘We want to place the right focus with our digital robustness index’
In order to flesh out the catch-all concept of robustness, Meijer Potato is introducing the digital robustness index this year. ‘In this way, we can present all our collected data about new and existing varieties in a clear manner and so put the right focus on the different areas where our varieties grow’, Johan van der Stee, Commercial Director of Meijer Potato explains.
Next to the trays with new varieties, an impressive number of interested visitors are in discussion near a large computer screen. On that screen, Meijer Potato is showing its latest tool that helps decide their choice of varieties. ‘What exactly are robust varieties? We’ve noticed that everyone has their own individual picture and perception’, Van der Stee points out. ‘In order to clarify the notion of robust varieties for the market, we’ve created a robustness index this year. This index includes seven factors, so that customers can objectively compare varieties in terms of robustness. An additional advantage is that this creates a benchmark. The data on which we base the index has been collected for many years in our breeding programme. In order to make the data more accessible and transparent, we started developing a computer programme a year ago. The commercial idea we had is that, together with our customers, we want to compare what is already on the market and what we have available in our breeding programme’, the Commercial Director says enthusiastically.
Seven items included
‘We’ve included seven items that are in our robustness index. These are marketable yield, climate and soil adaptation, storage quality, fertilisation efficiency, crop protection efficiency and water efficiency. There are quite a number of factors behind these items. Take, for example, our new Acoustic variety. This scores high on crop protection efficiency with its Phytophthora resistance. Our Melody variety, for example, scores better in long-term storage, but if you add the mechanical cooling factor, the Acoustic is also a reliable variety for long storage. If you look at soil adaptation, you can see that the variety scores well and performs well on all the soil types. By varying the importance of the various factors, a customer can make a conscious choice for the variety that best fits his market and cropping area’, Van der Stee tells his audience at the screen. ‘With the index we want to make sure that the risk of mistakes is much smaller. That’s very important today. Cultivation is becoming increasingly expensive and the requirements in the market are increasing due to strict legislation and high demands from customers’, the Commercial Director emphasises. Van der Stee is already envisaging his next step. ‘We want customers to be presented with a variety that’s a perfect fit for their business, based on a list of requirements. We can also use such a list to provide focus in our breeding programme.’
’Want to keep reading about the Potato Variety Days?
In the run-up to the event we published an e-book that you can download here!