Nickerson Dutch Trials

01 November 2006

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Nickerson Zwaan Open Days in North Holland (late September)

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Nickerson Focus on 'Weather-Proof' Varieties  by Edward Long

(Shortened extract from The Vegetable Farmer, November 2006)

"Our goal is to develop varieties that are as weather-proof as possible so they turn in a reliable and consistent performance every year no matter what growing conditions they have to face during the season," Nickerson-Zwaan's Mark Sutherland told visitors to the company's Open Days at Sint Maarten in North Holland in late September.

"The incredibly hot and dry July followed by the wet and windy August that in turn was followed by the record warm September put huge pressures on varieties that were selected during the calmer conditions of more normal years.  So we needed extremes of hot/dry and cold/wet to determine how our latest varieties would cope, and we have been able to pick out those that have performed well despite the severe extremes of weather and thrown out anything that failed to meet our strict criteria."

Cauliflower
"We now have two brand new varieties that have proved to be reliable and consistent performers in a difficult season.  Both NiZ 10-280 and NiZ 10-283 will be released for commercial scale development trials in the UK in 2007."  The first of the new pair is an early type for the Freemont period, and it produced quality curds in the extreme weather conditions.  Mark Sutherland believes it is a strong contender to challenge Freemont for market share in this maturity segment.

NiZ 10-283 is an all-round full-season variety that matures 4-5 after its new stable mate.  It has also proven to be weather-proof and have the reliability to turn in a consistent performance.

Both coded types are targeted at the fresh market and appear to be well suited to pre-packing.  They have upright foliage and a closed base, so are ideal for packing.  Growers should take to them as they have good health criteria for both base and foliage, and provide a high percentage cut over a short harvest period.

NiZ 10-280 and 10-283 are expected to be fully commercially available for the 2008 season.

Pointed cabbage
The Dutch open days provided a first look at a new pointed cabbage to push the production season for Sweethearts into December or even January, well beyond the end of Duchy cuttings in mid to late October.

"Monarchy (NiZ 15-806) will extend the season for UK growers allowing them to supply the domestic market to replace imports from southern Europe," points out cabbage breeder Gerald Balder.  "Although late in the season quality is not compromised as it has sufficient cold tolerance and frost hardiness to perform well.  It also suffers less Xanthomonas, Alternaria and ring spot troubles than other pointed cabbages in this late period.

Nearby in the plots at Sint Maarten a brand new red pointed cabbage stood out as being an eye-catching winner for supermarket shelves.  Code NiZ 15-830, it will be available for commercial trials in 2008 and promises to be an exciting prospect for the future.

"It has the look, feel and flavour of Duchy but is red so provides the visual impact and eye appeal for use as a shredded product in a mixed salad pack or as whole head in a pillow pack."

Plantings from early April to mid-July are ready for cutting between mid-June and late October.

White cabbage
Also on view at the Dutch event in September was a new white storage cabbage for processing.  NiZ 17-814 combines high yield with long term storage potential, it can be held through until June or July whilst retaining its head quality, fine internal structure and short core.

Not a song writer or member of a famous pop group, McCartney (NiZ 17-664) is the latest white cabbage variety geared to the needs of both the baby and small pre-pack heads markets.  Capable of producing heads of around 1 kg, when sown at the correct density, it is geared to pre-pack market needs.  Seen as a possible Krypton replacement, it also has long term storage potential.  It can be cut between mid-September and mid-November and held through until late April.

Red cabbage
A new red storage cabbage for processing is coded NiZ 13-277.  It has been developed as a potential successor to Rodon and produces a high yield of deep red heads with good internal colour and structure and good storage potential.  It continues the company's theme of improved reliability and consistency.

Savoy cabbage
Two new savoys, NiZ 14-355 and 14-356, also featured at the Dutch event.  The earlier of the pair 14-355 is intended for second early use ahead of Midvoy.

"It plugs a gap in our range and produces very compact mid-green heads," Gerald Balder says.  "It has extremely good Xanthomonas tolerance.  Usually the reliability and consistency of a savoy crop can be hit badly by Xanthomonas, but this new variety has the best tolerance of anything else in this segment."

Sister line 14-356 also has good tolerance, more than in Excelvoy, and it comes in for an October to early December harvest.

Both the new savoys will complement Nickerson-Zwaan's biggest selling savoy, which is targeted at the post-Christmas market.

Brussels sprouts
One new Brussels sprout variety was picked out for a special mention at last September's event.  NiZ 16-3931 is a Maximus type for picking in the October/November period.  It produces a high yield of evenly spaced solid, heavy dark green sprouts up a cylindrical stem, and as they are within the 25-35mm size grade they should suit the pre-packers.  With a high degree of lodging resistance NiZ 16-3931 should prove useful on fertile sites and cope well with wet and windy conditions late in the year on ay site.